Brits’ tech habits are destroying their bodies, say experts


IN the UK, around 63 percent of people aged 75 to 84 had musculoskeletal issues in 2023, the highest rate among different age brackets. As people age, the likelihood of having these conditions increases.

This striking statistic from a recent health survey highlights a troubling trend in today’s hyper-connected world. The digital age brings unparalleled convenience and connectivity but at a cost, particularly to our physical health.

The Toll of Constant Connectivity

The average Briton now spends more than 24 hours a week online, with a considerable portion of this time on smartphones and computers. This surge in digital activity is contributing to a host of physical ailments, commonly referred to as “tech-related health issues.”

Common Health Problems Include:

  • Text Neck: Neck pain due to frequent bending over smartphones.
  • Wrist and Thumb Pain: Often associated with excessive texting or gaming.
  • Digital Eye Strain: Symptoms include dryness, irritation, and difficulty focusing, which are caused by prolonged screen time.
  • Posture Problems: Long hours in front of a computer can lead to slouching and other posture-related issues, resulting in back and shoulder pain.

Notably, these conditions were less prevalent in previous decades, underscoring digital gadgets’ profound impact on our health.

Insights from the Expert

Josh Gordon, a Geonode technology expert, emphasises the gravity of this issue. “We’re seeing a marked increase in chronic pain associated with digital device usage. It’s imperative to adapt our habits and environments to mitigate these health risks,” he advises.

Gordon Recommends Several Strategies to Reduce Health Risks:

  1. Ergonomic Adjustments: Setting up a workspace that promotes good posture can significantly lower the risk of pain. This includes appropriate chair height, adequate equipment spacing, and proper monitor alignment.
  2. Regular Breaks: Implement the 20-20-20 rule, which suggests taking a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away.
  3. Physical Activity: Integrating physical exercise into one’s routine helps offset the physical inactivity associated with extended screen time.

Adapting to a Digital-First World

The rise in remote working and digital leisure activities means more people than ever are glued to their devices. Recognizing the symptoms of tech-related health issues early can lead to better outcomes. Gordon suggests, “Regular check-ins on physical health conditions can make a world of difference. Awareness and proactive management are key.”

Steps for Prevention:

  • Set up a daily routine that includes stretching or yoga exercises specifically targeting the neck, back, and wrists.
  • Consider the use of ergonomic devices like keyboards, mouse pads with wrist support, and standing desks.
  • Prioritize eye health by adjusting screen brightness, using blue light filters, and ensuring regular eye examinations.

The Societal Impact

The broader societal implications of a digitally-induced health epidemic are significant, including increased healthcare costs and reduced workplace productivity. Organizations play a crucial role by fostering environments that encourage digital health and well-being among employees.

Encouragingly, public and private sectors in the UK are beginning to address these issues through awareness campaigns and health initiatives. As these efforts continue to expand, there is hope that the tide can be turned against the physical cost of our digital lives.

Final Words

In Josh Gordon’s words, “Adapting our lifestyle to the demands of the digital world isn’t just about increasing comfort; it’s about sustaining our health in the long term.” As the digital age continues to evolve, so must our approach to health and wellness in digital environments, ensuring that our bodies can keep up with our ever-expanding online lives.

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