It is increasingly difficult for us to imagine life without one of the many screens we watch daily for countless hourrs.
In recent decades, but especially in recent years, more and more electronic devices have made their way into our lives and have become indispensable. In most cases, the evolution of these devices has increased and the number of stimuli we are subjected to daily. The office computer or laptop, the smart phone used during leisure time, the home TV, all flood us with information, lights and sounds.
The increase in the number of video games and social networks has caused children and adolescents to spend more time in front of a screen. As a result, we are dealing with a steady increase in time spent in front of screens for both adults and children, with an average of about seven hours per day.
Many recent studies have found a correlation between prolonged exposure to multimedia devices and health problems among children. Health problems include: disorders of the endocrine, cardiovascular and neurological systems, as well as disorders of vision and posture.
The effects of screens on the endocrine system
Screen light affects melatonin secretion. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, produced mainly by the pineal gland. When we use our smart phone or watch TV before bed, we fall asleep harder.
Because of this, many smartphones now offer the option to filter out the light emitted and reduce the blue light waves. This helps only in part because the brain is still stimulated by the information on the phone to be able to relax and initiate the sleep process. Sleep disturbances will inevitably lead to chronic fatigue and are considered an indirect cause of immune system disorders.
Another effect of prolonged use of multimedia devices is the decrease of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body to function in major stress situations, by increasing the blood sugar level and reducing the immune system’s response. Studies have shown that an average consumption of more than 3 hours a day decreases the level of cortisol in the blood, so the body loses the ability to respond to stressful situations.
Insulin production is also affected by prolonged exposure to screens. A recent study found a link between media consumption and body insulin resistance. Children exposed to screens more than 3 hours a day had insulin resistance 10% higher than the control group, plus a higher amount of adipose tissue (fat). Thus, reducing the time spent in front of the screens could act as a method of preventing type 2 diabetes, especially in children.
Exposure to multimedia devices and cardiovascular diseases
The state in front of the computer, the TV or the smart phone in hand condemns us to an unhealthy habit: sedentary life. Sedentary lifestyle is associated with decreased immune response and increased obesity. Especially since many of us take our snacks in front of the TV, forgetting to stop eating.
Several studies have found that time spent playing video games on a computer is linked to increased blood pressure, low LDL cholesterol in the blood and narrowing of the arteries around the eyes. The latter is a phenomenon used by specialists as an indicator of the risk of cardiovascular disease.