10 Surprising Ways Screens Are Ruining Your Body and Mind

10 Surprising Ways Screens Are Ruining Your Body and Mind

10 Surprising Ways Screens Are Ruining Your Body and Mind 

In today's digital age, it seems impossible to escape the allure of screens. Whether you're scrolling through social media on your phone at the breakfast table, binge-watching your favorite shows after a long day, or typing away at your laptop well into the night, colorful displays glow all around us, vying for our attention at every moment. 

On the one hand, technology has transformed our lives for the better in many ways. With a flick of your fingers, you can organize your schedule, stay in touch with loved ones anywhere in the world, and access the vast knowledge of the internet. However, an ever-growing body of research suggests that while screens may enhance our virtual connections, they come at a cost to our physical and mental well-being[1][2]

The blue light emitted from digital displays disrupts sleep cycles and melatonin production, leaving many feeling foggy and fatigued even after a full night's rest. Staring at screens for prolonged periods can also strain eyes and cause headaches. Yet screens' negative effects go even deeper. 

Excessive social media usage has been linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and loneliness[5][10]. Constant device checking also distracts us from face-to-face interactions and activities vital for childhood development and emotional well-being. 

In this article, we'll dive deeper into 10 compelling ways excessive screen time is sabotaging your body and brain without you even realizing it. From disrupted hormones to diminished creativity, learn how giving screens a break could be key to feeling happier and healthier in both mind and body. It's time to rediscover balance in the digital age and prioritize real-world relationships and experiences over virtual ones. Your well-being may depend on it.

Smartphone and other smart device addiction impair attention and self-control, leading to focus issues, reduced brain activity in attention-related regions, and many more side effects.

1.Digital Eye Strain 

Let's start with one of the most obvious culprits: digital eye strain. Staring at screens for prolonged periods can lead to a host of eye-related issues, including dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and even double vision[1]. This is because our eyes are forced to work harder to focus on the pixelated images and text on digital displays, which can cause eye muscles to become fatigued and strained. 

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that many of us don't blink as frequently when we're glued to screens. Blinking helps to keep our eyes lubricated and prevents them from drying out.

When we're engrossed in what's happening on the screen, we tend to blink less often, leading to dry, irritated eyes. 


Here is the summary of the key findings, and statistics from the literature review on digital eye strain[1]


  • The Digital Eye Strain Report of 2016 included survey responses from over 10,000 adults in the USA. It reported an overall self-reported prevalence of digital eye strain of 65%, with females more commonly affected than males (69% vs 60%)
  • A report by the Vision Council in 2016 noted that approximately two-thirds of adults aged 30–49 years in the USA spend five or more hours on digital devices daily. Younger adults aged 20-29 reportedly use two or more digital devices simultaneously. 


  • Pre-COVID prevalence of digital eye strain symptoms ranged widely from 5-65% according to various studies. 
  • During COVID lockdowns, digital eye strain prevalence rose significantly, with reports of 50-60% in children and an overall incidence of 78%. 
  • Common symptoms included dry eyes, eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and eye discomfort. 
  • Risk factors included time spent on screens, ergonomics, lighting conditions, refractive errors, squinting, and reduced blink rate. 
  • New-onset myopia and increased progression of existing myopia were linked to increased near work during COVID lockdowns. 


  • Blink rate reduces from 18-22 blinks/min normally to 3.6-7 blinks/min on digital devices. 
  • Refractive error prevalence is near 50% in children post-COVID, with myopic progression accelerating from 0.3D pre-COVID to 1D during COVID. 
  • Maximum myopic progression influences seen in children aged 6-8 years. Conclusions: 
  • Digital eye strain is a significant public health problem exacerbated by increased device use during the COVID pandemic. 
  • Younger populations are more affected, with the need for protective educational measures. 
  • Management involves reducing screen time, proper ergonomics, lifestyle modifications, and refractive corrections.
  • Further research is needed on optimized screen technologies, novel lenses, and prevention strategies.

2.Sleep Disruption 

Another way screens are wreaking havoc on our health is by disrupting our sleep patterns. The blue light emitted by most digital devices suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. When melatonin levels are low, it becomes harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading to chronic sleep deprivation. 

Sleep deprivation, in turn, has been linked to a host of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even premature aging. It also impairs cognitive function, making it harder to concentrate, learn, and retain information. 

Here is the summary of the key findings from the study on sleep quality among adolescents in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia[2]


  • The study surveyed 324 adolescents in Riyadh aged 16-19 years using an online questionnaire. 
  • Most participants were female (74.1%) and students (95.1%)
  • Screen usage was high - 34.9% used screens 6-8 hours daily and 34.3% used them over 8 hours daily. Phones were the most commonly used device (84%).
  • Over 70% felt family/friends influenced their screen time usage. 29.6% spent over 60 minutes on screens before bed. 
  • 52.5% were classified as poor sleepers based on PSQI scores. Only 19.8% slept over 7 hours per night. 81.2% had a sleep efficiency under 85%. 
  • Significant associations were found between poor sleep quality and increased daily screen time, longer screen time before bed, and screens affecting next-day productivity. 


  • Mean age was 17.5 ± 1.1 years 
  • 47.5% were good sleepers, 52.5% poor sleepers 
  • PSQI global scores ranged from 0-16 with a mean of 6.4 ± 3.7 


  • Adolescents in the study had high frequency and duration of screen use, often exceeding 6 hours daily. 
  • Nearly half had poor sleep quality, feeling fatigued, daytime sleepiness, and lack of concentration. 
  • Excessive screen time, especially before bed, was shown to negatively impact sleep quality.

The study highlights the high levels of screen usage among adolescents and associations with poor sleep outcomes. It recommends limiting screen time, especially before bed, to promote better sleep hygiene and health. 

3.Neck and back pain

Hunching over our phones, tablets, and laptops for extended periods can lead to neck and back pain. This is because poor posture puts excessive strain on the muscles and joints in our neck, shoulders, and back, causing them to become tense and painful. 

Over time, this poor posture can lead to more serious issues, such as herniated discs, pinched nerves, and even permanent spinal misalignment. It's essential to take frequent breaks and maintain good posture when using digital devices to prevent these issues from developing. 

For instance here is a summary of the key reports, findings, statistics, and conclusions from the cross-sectional study[3]


  • Descriptive exploratory cross-sectional research design was used with a convenience sample of 120 nursing students. 
  • Valid and reliable self-administered survey was used to collect data on demographics, Neck Disability Index, Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire. 


  • 87.5% of participants used digital devices daily, mainly smartphones and tablets. 
  • Average study hours per week was 9.1 hours. 82.5% did not exercise regularly. 
  • 54.2% reported mild neck pain intensity. 60% regularly changed positions to rest back. 
  • 39.2% could only stand for limited periods due to back issues. 39.2% expressed health concerns. 


  • Mean age was 21.4 years. 88% were female. 
  • Significant association between neck pain severity and marital status (χ2 = 15.226, p = 0.019). 
  • No significant correlation between neck pain and age or gender. 


  • Majority of nursing students use digital devices daily for many hours, including lying in bed.
  • Almost half reported mild neck pain, and most did not exercise regularly. 
  • Marital status significantly associated with neck pain severity. 
  • Findings suggest maintaining neutral postures to reduce pain from extensive device use. 
  • Awareness of health risks from computers needed, especially for nursing students. 

4.Sedentary Lifestyle

The rise of screen-based entertainment and work has contributed to a sedentary lifestyle for many of us. Instead of engaging in physical activities, we often find ourselves glued to our screens for hours on end, whether it's binge-watching the latest Netflix series or working on a never-ending stream of digital tasks. 

A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to numerous health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even certain types of cancer[4]. It's crucial to make an effort to incorporate physical activity into our daily routines to counteract the negative effects of spending too much time in front of screens. 

For example, here is the summary of the cross-national investigation on screen-based sedentary behaviors associated with less physical activity[4]

This study examined the association between screen time and physical activity among 200,000+ adolescents across 39 countries. Time spent watching TV, gaming, and online were measured. Overall, exceeding 2 hours of daily screen time was linked to less vigorous physical activity for girls and less moderate-to-vigorous activity for both genders. 

When analyzing specific behaviors, TV viewing and gaming were associated with lower physical activity levels. However, results varied significantly between regions. Stronger negative associations were found in North America and Nordic countries with higher average physical activity. 

Conversely, associations were weaker or null in Southern/Eastern Europe with lower activity levels. Additionally, higher national physical activity, not screen time, predicted stronger negative associations. In conclusion, current screen time guidelines may not effectively increase activity in all countries or cultures given regional differences in behaviors and their relationships. 

5.Social Isolation and Loneliness

While social media platforms are designed to connect us with others, paradoxically, they can often lead to social isolation and loneliness. When we spend too much time scrolling through curated feeds and highlight reels of other people's lives, it's easy to feel like we're missing out or that our own lives don't measure up. 

This can lead to feelings of envy, inadequacy, and even depression, which can further fuel our desire to withdraw from in-person social interactions and seek solace in the digital world[5].

It's important to maintain a healthy balance between our online and offline social lives to prevent feelings of loneliness and disconnection from taking root. 

6.Addictive Behaviors

Many digital products and platforms are designed to be addictive, using techniques such as infinite scrolling, push notifications, and variable rewards to keep us engaged and coming back for more. This can lead to addictive behaviors, where we find ourselves compulsively checking our devices and struggling to disengage from digital distractions[6]. 

Addictive behaviors can have a negative impact on our mental health, productivity, and overall well-being. They can also strain our relationships and make it harder to stay present and engaged in the real world. Becoming aware of these addictive design patterns and setting healthy boundaries around our screen time is essential to maintaining control over our digital consumption. 

7.Cognitive Overload

With the wealth of information and stimuli available at our fingertips, it's easy to experience cognitive overload. Our brains are bombarded with a constant stream of notifications, emails, messages, and digital content, making it challenging to stay focused and process information effectively. 

Cognitive overload can lead to attention deficits, memory problems, and even decision fatigue, where we struggle to make even simple choices due to mental exhaustion[7]. To combat this issue, it's important to practice mindfulness, limit digital distractions, and give our brains regular breaks to rest and recharge. 

8.Eyesight Deterioration

Prolonged exposure to the blue light emitted by digital screens can also contribute to eyesight deterioration. Blue light has a shorter wavelength and higher energy level than other types of light, which can cause damage to the light-sensitive cells in our retinas over time[8]

This damage can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older adults[8]. Additionally, blue light exposure can contribute to the development of cataracts and other eye-related issues. Protecting our eyes by limiting screen time and using blue light-blocking glasses or software can help mitigate these risks. 

9.Skin Damage

While not as widely discussed, screen exposure can also contribute to skin damage. The blue light emitted by digital devices can generate free radicals in our skin, which can break down collagen and elastin, the proteins that give our skin its firmness and elasticity[9]

This can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and a dull, uneven complexion. Additionally, the habit of touching our screens with our fingers and then touching our faces can transfer dirt, oil, and bacteria to our skin, potentially causing breakouts and other skin issues. Practicing good hygiene and limiting screen time can help protect our skin's health and appearance. 

10.Increased Risk of Obesity

Finally, our love affair with screens may be contributing to the global obesity epidemic. Studies have shown that excessive screen time is associated with an increased risk of obesity, particularly in children and adolescents. 

There are several reasons for this connection. First, time spent in front of screens is often sedentary, which can lead to a decrease in physical activity and an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure[10]. Additionally, exposure to food advertisements and cues on screens can stimulate cravings and unhealthy eating habits. Finally, screen time can displace other activities that promote physical activity and healthy behaviors. 

To combat this issue, it's essential to limit screen time, especially for children, and encourage more active lifestyles that promote physical movement and healthy habits. 


Here is a summary of the key aspects from the systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis[10]


This study conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the association between screen time and obesity risk among children. A comprehensive search of major databases was performed to identify relevant articles. A total of 45 individual studies from 9 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. 


The meta-analysis found that children in the highest category of screen time had 21% higher odds of obesity compared to those in the lowest category (OR = 1.21, 95% CI: 1.113-1.317, p < 0.001). Subgroup analysis found the setting, obesity status, and age may influence this association. There was no evidence of a non-linear dose-response relationship. Quality assessments found the studies were of moderate quality. 


Heterogeneity between studies was high (I2 = 60.4%). Subgrouping by setting, obesity status and age reduced heterogeneity slightly. The dose-response analysis found no non-linear association (p for non-linearity = 0.31). Increments of 50, 100, and 150 minutes of screen time were associated with 7%, 16%, and 35% higher odds of obesity respectively, though not statistically significant. 

Conclusion Of The Meta-Analysis 

The review concluded there is a positive association between increased screen time and higher obesity risk among children. However, the cross-sectional study designs limit conclusions on causality. Further longitudinal or intervention studies are needed, particularly with separate analysis by gender and screen device. Overall screen time management in children may help address obesity. 


While screens have become an integral part of our lives, it's clear that our excessive reliance on them is taking a toll on our physical and mental well-being. From digital eye strain and sleep disruption to social isolation and cognitive overload, the negative impacts are numerous and far-reaching. 

It's crucial that we become more mindful of our screen time and take steps to establish a healthier balance between our digital and real-world lives. This may involve setting limits on screen usage, incorporating regular breaks and physical activity into our routines, practicing good posture and eye care habits, and prioritizing in-person social connections

By making conscious efforts to manage our screen exposure, we can mitigate the negative impacts and harness the benefits of technology while preserving our health and well-being. Remember, screens are tools meant to enhance our lives, not dominate them. It's up to us to strike the right balance and cultivate a healthier relationship with the digital world. 


[1] Kaur, Kirandeep, et al. “Digital Eye Strain- a Comprehensive Review.” Ophthalmology and Therapy, vol. 11, no. 5, Adis, Springer Healthcare, July 2022, pp. 1655–80, https://doi.org/10.1007/s40123-022-00540-9. 

[2] Alshoaibi, Yara et al. “The effect of screen use on sleep quality among adolescents in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.” Journal of family medicine and primary care vol. 12,7 (2023): 1379-1388. doi:10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_159_23 

[3] Mahmoud, Nermen A et al. “Impact of Digital Device Use on Neck and Low Back Pain Intensity among Nursing Students at a Saudi Government University: A Cross-Sectional Study.”

Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 10,12 2424. 30 Nov. 2022, 


[4] Melkevik, Ole et al. “Is spending time in screen-based sedentary behaviors associated with less physical activity: a cross national investigation.” The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity vol. 7 46. 21 May. 2010, doi:10.1186/1479-5868-7-46 

[5] Bonsaksen, Tore et al. “Associations between social media use and loneliness in a cross-national population: do motives for social media use matter?.” Health psychology and behavioral medicine vol. 11,1 2158089. 1 Jan. 2023, doi:10.1080/21642850.2022.2158089 

[6] Nakshine, Vaishnavi S et al. “Increased Screen Time as a Cause of Declining Physical, Psychological Health, and Sleep Patterns: A Literary Review.” Cureus vol. 14,10 e30051. 8 Oct. 2022, doi:10.7759/cureus.30051 

[7] Talal Alasmari. “The Effect of Screen Size on Students’ Cognitive Load in Mobile Learning.” ResearchGate, STKIP Singkawang, 30 Sept. 2020, 

www.researchgate.net/publication/348932210_The_Effect_of_Screen_Size_on_Students’_Cogn itive_Load_in_Mobile_Learning

[8] The. “How Too Much Screen Time Affects Kids’ Eyes: Tips to Prevent Eye Strain | Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.” Chop.edu, 6 Dec. 2018, 


[9] Kumari, Jyoti et al. “The impact of blue light and digital screens on the skin.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology vol. 22,4 (2023): 1185-1190. doi:10.1111/jocd.15576 

[10] Andrés Alexis Ramírez-Coronel, et al. “RETRACTED ARTICLE: Childhood Obesity Risk Increases with Increased Screen Time: A Systematic Review and Dose–Response Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, vol. 42, no. 1, BioMed Central, Jan. 2023, https://doi.org/10.1186/s41043-022-00344-4.

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