Screen time is slowly damaging us in ways we may not know for another generation or more, when scientists have studied the right populations over time. Like a runaway train, computer technology hit us hard and fast, and there’s no slowing it down. How many hours are workers spending adjusting to the “new and improved” software update? What about the added stress balancing new technology with the job itself? Is a new type of workman’s compensation claim on the horizon?
Americans spend more than 11 hours daily before a screen; watching, listening or simply interacting with media, according to a Nielsen market research group study. Sitting before a bright screen for long periods can also damage the eyes permanently. Computer Vision Syndrome, a combination of symptoms including eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches, neck and back pain affects 58 percent of people who work on computers.
A recent Business Insider article reports that since 1971, cases of nearsightedness in the US have nearly doubled, which some scientists link partially to increased screen time. In Asia, nearly 90 percent of teens and adults are nearsighted.
Studies involving adult populations have shown prolonged screen time diminishes the brain’s cognitive functioning, affects a person’s ability to prioritize and organize and has an impact on their impulse control. With all the pitfalls of excess screen time, we are hopelessly dependent upon technology. Workers in professional jobs simply cannot escape from screens.
Workers comp claims due to excessive screen time could be a problem for the near future. Is it time for employers to diminish screen time? Or will they sweep under the rug as an acceptable workplace hazard? What if your employee files a claim? An avalanche could follow.
At the very least, HR departments can provide information on ways to cut screen time at work, such as taking brief hourly breaks from the screen (without being penalized). Another way to alleviate stress is to involve staff in periodic team building events or employee engagement activities that serve the community. In terms of screen time at home, HR can offer tips to cut screen time by suggesting apps that remind you of the time you spend surfing the web. If impulse control is your issue, Cold Turkey is a web site blocker that you can adjust to certain times a day to block such websites as facebook, youtube, amazon, reddit, or any others that suck your life away.