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Young People Are Concerned About Mental Health from Overusing Their Phones

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Survey results from Vizulize, specialists in eye care found that up to 65% of young adults aged 18–24 are worried about the effects on their eyes while 77% of young adults are worried about the effects that their phone has on their mental health.

This comes as the survey, which asked 200 respondents questions about their phone usage habits found that 41% of 18–24-year-olds admitted to using their phone for as much as five hours a day. Phone usage was found to be lowest among those aged 54 and over.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Instagram was found to be the most popular app among those within the 18–24 age brackets with an average of 2.5 hours a day dedicated to it, as concerns among the apps link to bullying and body image worries are on the rise. Coupled with built-in filters and popular face editing apps such as Airbrush, photos and imagery can likely be presented in a less realistic way and may have lasting effects on mental health.

Phones have also been continually linked to concerns surrounding the damage to your retina through phototoxicity. Common symptoms of physical damage to your eyes from phone or computer screens (or ‘screen eyes’, as it has been dubbed) can be eye strain, tired eyes, irritation and dry eyes, with the long-term effects still yet to be entirely determined.

Allon Barsam, a leading consultant eye surgeon and co-founder of Ophthalmic Consultants of London (OCL), explains the link: ‘The lower resolution and varying brightness of letters and images on a screen, with bright centres and blurred edges, mean the eyes have to adjust multiple times to focus properly overworking the eye muscles. The high energy blue light emitted by screens scatters more easily than other visible light making it even harder for the eyes to focus.

‘This blue light, along with increased screen time and the effects of eye strain from holding smaller screens closer to our the face has prompted some ophthalmic scientists to suggest it could increase the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, although long term studies are needed to properly assess this. Growing up with such a huge amount of screen time is deeply worrying and we must all take action to limit it.’

Vizulize have come up with the best practices you can adopt to prevent suffering from ‘screen eyes’:

  • Have a break – Applying techniques such as the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes; look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds – to allow your eyes some short relief and giving the surrounding eye muscles time to relax.
  • Check your screen set up – Switching your phone to greyscale mode can make apps look a lot less visually appealing and therefore less tempting to click on. Using in-built apps such as ‘Do Not Disturb’ will also help you to stop reaching for your phone unnecessarily.
  • Add/remove apps – Apps that promote or inspire healthy behaviours such as meditation or screen limits and removing unnecessary apps or taking a ‘social media detox’ can help to increase downtime.

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