For those addicted to their electronic devices, new research suggests being under the spell of the screen could be affecting key health indicators. People who spend the most time on computers or other devices have the least healthful eating patterns and health-related characteristics compared with those who log less screen time.
Researchers at Arizona State University surveyed more than 900 people nationwide about their use of electronic devices, eating habits, physical activity and sleep quality. The participants’ use of electronic-screen devices was separated into three categories: light users who averaged seven hours of screen time per day; moderate users who spent about 11 hours in front of screens; and heavy screen users who typically spent up to 17 hours — 17 hours! — a day with various devices, including televisions.
The type of device being used also matters. Those who reported the most smartphone use had the worst sleep quality. People who used televisions and cell phones the most had less healthy dietary patterns than those on laptops and tablet computers.
Even one of the most common habits of modern life, binge watching television shows, can have lifestyle consequences. Binge viewers were more likely to have meals in front of a television, eat fast food and report feeling stress. The association of screen time and fast-food consumption was lowest among laptop users, which researchers believe may be related to the idea that laptop use is often related to work or school.
While it’s almost impossible to shut down your screens entirely, moderation is the key. Turn them off and look around you. There’s a big, beautiful world out there. Take it all in and enjoy the health benefits.