One of the distinguishing characteristics between our Generation Z and the previous generations is the use of technology in our daily lives. It seems to be increasingly likely that teenagers are increasingly reliant on our cellular devices, to the point that it could be detrimental to our health. Multiple studies have shown that reliance on cellular devices can cause damage, but do we know exactly how harmful our iPhones and Androids, or iPads might be at night?
Image from Wikimedia Commons
In order to truly understand the damage cell devices can cause, we must see (pun intended) the data and its implications. According to the Salk institute, staying up late at night with our devices messes with our Circadian rhythm, or body clock, having deteriorating consequences on how and when the body operates optimally. In their experiment, the Salk researchers operated on retinal cells from mice, observing melanopsin cells and their reaction to various arrays of light at different brightness levels. Melanopsin is critical to regulating the body clocks in a majority of organisms. The shifting of the body’s clock and its Circadian rhythm has drastic consequences in life anywhere from performing body functions to sleep schedules in organisms.
Another article by Forbes magazine offers alternative reasons why excessive screen time at night may be detrimental to adolescents specifically. A consequence of too much exposure to phones include a lack of brain connectivity, and eventual reliance and addiction to smartphones. A similar Nielsen report study from 2014 shows that there are negative consequences such as sleep loss, addiction to other substances, weight gain, risk for heart disease, and “computer vision syndrome,” with symptoms such as dry eyes, headaches, and blurred vision. These health consequences can easily be prevented, and psychologist Sara Thomee addresses the statement that blue light from electronic devices reduces melatonin, leading to a drastic loss of sleep and overall health. Specific to tweens, or pre teens, hospital staff recommend that reading as an alternative to spending too much time on electronics, as it boosts brain connectivity and cognitive presence.
While multiple studies and articles prove what we might consider to be obvious, it is important to consider the lasting impacts as they apply to our daily lives. While I may not have realized how much time I’ve spend in front of my computer typing this blog, the long term impacts of too much screen exposure far outweigh the short term pleasure we may receive. So the next time you hear someone complaining about how much time you spend on your phone, just think about what might happen if you keep scrolling through your Instagram feed for a little too long.