Physical and Mental Impact of Excess Screen Time

drkmh Physical and Mental Impact of Excess Screen Time


Balancing screen time and real-world engagement is essential for preserving physical, emotional and mental well-being.

In an age dominated by technology, our screens have become windows to the world, offering us unprecedented access to information, entertainment, and connection. Yet, as our lives become increasingly intertwined with digital devices, the repercussions of excessive screen time on our physical and emotional well-being have come into sharp focus.


Let us delve into the multifaceted impacts of prolonged screen use, shedding light on how it affects our bodies, minds, and relationships. From the sedentary lifestyle it promotes to the intricate ways it influences our mental health, let us try to understand the nuances of navigating the digital landscape while safeguarding our holistic health.


Excessive screen time can have significant impacts on both physical and emotional health. Here are some of the key effects:


Physical Health Impacts


  • #1 Sedentary Lifestyle

    Spending prolonged hours engrossed in screens, whether for work, entertainment, or socializing, often translates to a sedentary lifestyle. This means less physical movement and a higher likelihood of remaining seated for extended periods. This lack of physical activity can have far-reaching consequences for overall health. A sedentary lifestyle is closely linked to weight gain, obesity, and related health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic disorders. The lack of calorie expenditure combined with excessive calorie consumption can disrupt the body’s energy balance and contribute to the accumulation of excess body fat.

  • #2 Eye Strain

    Continuous screen use, especially with devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets, can strain the eyes. The proximity of screens, along with factors like glare and blue light emission, can lead to digital eye strain. Symptoms often include dry, itchy, or irritated eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and discomfort. Over time, untreated eye strain can contribute to chronic eye conditions and discomfort that may impact daily activities. Blue light emitted by screens can also disrupt the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, potentially leading to sleep disturbances and fatigue.

  • #3 Sleep Disruption

    Exposure to screens, particularly before bedtime, can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Screens emit blue light, which mimics daylight and suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. This disruption to the sleep hormone can lead to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and experiencing restorative sleep. Chronic sleep disruption can result in insomnia, increased daytime sleepiness, impaired cognitive function, mood disturbances, and an overall decline in well-being. It’s recommended to limit screen time before bedtime and use features like “night mode” to reduce blue light exposure during evening hours.

  • #4 Physical Discomfort

    Poor posture while using screens, such as slouching or hunching over devices, can lead to physical discomfort. “Text neck” is a term used to describe the strain on the neck and upper back caused by extended periods of looking down at screens. This posture can lead to muscle imbalances, tension, and pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Over time, these discomforts can become chronic and impact daily activities, leading to reduced quality of life.

  • #5 Reduced Physical Activity

    Increased screen time often competes with time that could be spent engaging in physical activities. Whether it’s exercise, outdoor play, or even simple movements like walking, prolonged screen use can lead to reduced physical activity levels. This decline in physical activity has numerous consequences. Muscles and bones can weaken due to lack of use, leading to reduced functional fitness and flexibility. Cardiovascular fitness can suffer, increasing the risk of heart disease. Moreover, decreased physical activity is associated with a higher likelihood of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes.

Addressing these physical health impacts involves striking a balance between screen time and physical activity. Regular breaks to stretch and move, maintaining proper posture, reducing blue light exposure before bedtime, and actively choosing to engage in physical activities are all crucial steps to mitigate the negative effects of excessive screen time on physical well-being.


Emotional and Mental Health Impacts


  • Set Clear Boundaries: Establish specific time limits for using gadgets, both for work and leisure. Designate “gadget-free” times, such as during meals, before bedtime, and during social interactions.
  • Create Tech-Free Zones: Designate certain areas, such as bedrooms or dining areas, as tech-free zones. This helps in reducing the temptation to use gadgets during crucial times and promotes healthier habits.
  • Use Productivity Tools: Utilize apps and features that help manage screen time. Many devices offer built-in features to set time limits on specific apps or activities.
  • Practice Mindful Consumption: Before using a gadget, ask yourself whether it’s necessary or if you’re using it out of habit. Being aware of your motives can help prevent mindless scrolling or excessive usage.
  • Engage in Offline Activities: Pursue hobbies, sports, or activities that don’t involve screens. Engaging in physical and social activities offline can reduce the desire to constantly use gadgets.
  • Unplug Regularly: Dedicate specific periods each day to unplug from gadgets entirely. Use this time for relaxation, reading, exercise, or spending quality time with loved ones.
  • Prioritize Face-to-Face Interaction: Try to connect with people in person. Face-to-face interactions offer genuine emotional connections that can’t be replicated through screens.
  • Practice Digital Detoxes: Regularly schedule digital detox periods, where you disconnect from all gadgets for a certain duration. Use this time to reset and reevaluate your relationship with technology.
  • Limit Notifications: Reduce the number of notifications you receive. Turn off non-essential alerts to prevent constant interruptions that encourage excessive gadget use.
  • Establish a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Avoid using gadgets before bedtime. Engage in calming activities such as reading a physical book, practising relaxation techniques, or gentle stretches.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Determine specific goals for gadget use and stick to them. For instance, limit social media browsing to a certain number of minutes per day.
  • Seek Support: If you find it challenging to control your gadget usage, consider seeking support from friends, family, or even professional counsellors. They can provide guidance and accountability.
  • Practice Digital Mindfulness: Be present and intentional when using gadgets. Avoid multitasking and focus on one activity at a time to enhance your engagement and reduce the risk of addiction.
  • Engage in Physical Activities: Regular exercise can help reduce the desire to spend excessive time on gadgets. Physical activity boosts mood, reduces stress, and promotes overall well-being.

Remember that preventing gadget addiction is an ongoing effort that requires self-awareness and discipline. By implementing these strategies and being mindful of your gadget usage, you can strike a healthier balance between technology and other aspects of your life.


Balancing screen time and real-world engagement is essential for preserving physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Striving for intentional technology use, setting boundaries, and nurturing in-person relationships can help mitigate these impacts, fostering a healthier and more harmonious interaction between the digital and physical realms.


CONSULTANT - PSYCHIATRY at Dr.Kamakshi Memorial Hospitals
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