Although the smartphones and laptops make our lives easier, this technology also has significant drawbacks. The constant stream of novelty that the internet provides is much more addictive than other forms of entertainment like reading a book or listening to music Here are 10 common side-effects of spending too much time online:
1. You decompress for hours online after a day of working on your computer
Track how much time you spend online. You’ll be surprised how much time you spend in front of a screen every day. If you’re on your computer for 5 hours a day for work or school, and then spend 3 hours at home watching Netflix or browsing the internet, that’s 8 hours a day in front of a screen, not to mention the time you spend checking your phone throughout the day!
2. You go online first thing in the morning and last thing at night
Maybe you just go online for five minutes to help you wake up in the morning or turn off your brain before bed, which is perfectly fine. However, this could also indicate that you have a strong compulsion to go online. If you need to check your email or social media so badly that you can’t stop yourself from reaching for your phone as soon as you wake up, this is a bad sign.
Furthermore, screen time in bed can disrupt your sleep schedule. Your body should think that bed = sleep. Doing anything other than sleeping or having sex in bed may make it more difficult to fall asleep, especially if you’re staring at the blue light of your smartphone while inhibits your brain’s production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. To improve what’s called “sleep hygiene”, have turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before bed.
3. You get migraines and/or dry eyes
A 2015 study by French researcher Dr. Montagni found that high amounts of screen time increased the risk of migraines by 37% in young adults. Excessive screen time can also cause non-migraine headaches, blurred vision, or fatigue, as well as eyestrain, burning, itchy, or dry eyes, according to Healthline.com.
4. You have trouble focusing on your work
If you regularly visit sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or Tumblr, you’re used to scrolling through a rapid succession of images. The vast majority of items on your feed only take a few seconds to read, resulting in a skimming reading style that doesn’t take much focus.
This is harmful to your attention span. When you look at a new image every few seconds, it makes it all the more challenging to focus on something for great lengths of time. Signs that you have a shorter attention span include: 1. constantly multitasking by dividing your attention between tasks, rather than focusing on one and 2. procrastinating while working online by non-work sites like Reddit or Instagram.
5. You need to be entertained all the time
Constantly entertaining yourself is both a cause and result of a short attention span. Always watching a tv show while eating snacks or checking your phone means you’re dividing your attention between three things, rather than focusing on one. Making a habit of this will result in not being able to get through a single episode without these distractions.
6. You’re not as creative as you used to be
Creativity isn’t just self-expression. It’s a mentally-taxing skill. Problem-solving, making art, or even coming up with a noteworthy comment in a class discussion all takes brainpower.
The ubiquitous availability of Google allows us to skip this mental-weight lifting. Instead of figuring out a problem yourself, you can Google the answer. Not using this precious skill will cause it to atrophy.
7. You go online even when you don’t want to
Have you ever found yourself just mindlessly scrolling? Sometimes people go online simply out of habit, even when they don’t enjoy going online. Young adults also tend to use the internet to cope with stress or boredom. This coping mechanism can turn into a bad habit that just leads to more stress and boredom, rather than alleviating it.
8. You check social media every day
You might be hooked if you can’t go a single day without checking social media. It’s much easier to make habits than break them, and this one, in particular, is toxic to your mental health. Numerous studies have found that social media usage increases feelings of loneliness and isolation. Ironically, technology intended to bring people together makes them feel more alone.
9. Your back hurts all the time
Spending a large amount of time online in a single sitting isn’t conducive to healthy posture. Being hunched over your phone, laptop, or game controller will cause stiff neck and back pain, which increases pressure on spinal muscles, ligaments, nerves, and disks, according to Dr. Peter Ottone, a New Jersey chiropractor who spoke with Healthline. This posture can also contribute to headaches.
To prevent these health issues, try to sit with a straight spine or use a standing desk, have your computer at or near eye level, and get up to stretch at least every hour.
10. You have difficulty reading, especially classics
Nicholas Carr, who authored the Atlantic article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” reasons that using the internet requires only a shallow type of thinking, unlike the deep thinking required for reading novels. We bounce between skimming articles, scrolling through social media, checking our email. This shallow type of thinking sticks with us even when we aren’t using the internet.
As Carr tells NPR, “I’d sit down with a book, or a long article and after a couple of pages my brain wanted to do what it does when I’m online: check e-mail, click on links, do some Googling, hop from page to page.”