Yes, you know by now that being glued to your iPhone isn't doing you any favors — and we're not just talking about getting a bad case of Pinterest-envy. Here's what you can do to mitigate all the troubles tech could be causing.
1. Wear sunscreen while you scroll.
If your trusty tablet doesn't have an LCD or LED screen, UV light can reflect off it when you're outside, increasing your chances of an unsightly burn and premature aging, according to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.
2. Stop leaning in.
Sorry, Sheryl Sandberg, but leaning in isn't always a good thing — especially when it comes to our laptops. "We keep our phones and computers too close to our faces because of a stress response that's happening with our eyes — they want to get into the screen," says Andrea Thau, O.D., president of the (AOA) and spokesperson for . But all that eye strain worsens your vision. The fix? Follow the 20-20-20: For every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20-second break by looking at something at least 20 feet away.
3. Take a social media timeout.
Constantly looking at your Facebook feed may make you lonelier, according to . Another suggests that loneliness, in turn, makes you log on more often. Joy! And it's not just a fleeting case of FOMO that you can brush off. that the more people used Facebook over a period of time, the more unsatisfied they were. So, if you don't want to feel blah, take some time to connect with friends in real life instead of just "liking" photos of their kids — as cute as they are.
4. Just like your mom says, sit up straight.
We spend an average of two to four hours a day hunching over our screens, says Scott Bautch, D.C., president of the. "That can cause some pretty devastating effects," like neck pain, inflammation in the tendons that can lead to tendonitis, aging, and degeneration, to name a few. Make sure the top of your monitor is at eye level so that you're looking down into the center of the screen to relieve neck strain. Also, periodically tilt your head back to take the pressure off your neck.
5. Stop multitasking.
You're firing off emails constantly, then scanning Instagram like it's your job, and no, it's not because you're easily distracted. Your brain is actually being rewired to crave all that info. "The stimulation from our electronic gadgets provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive," according to the . This explains why whenever we get a rare free moment, our first instinct is to reach for our phones. reinforced the idea, noting that when heavy Internet users went offline, they suffered from withdrawal symptoms similar to the ones experienced by drug users. So yep, might be time for a tech cleanse.
6. Do some brain teasers.
Remember back in the day when you could spout off your BFF's number like it was no big deal? If trying to memorize new digits these days feels like a feat, you may have a case of e-mentia (electronic dementia). When compared the brains of older adults who used a GPS to the brains of folks who read maps, they found that the GPS-reliant group were an at increased risk of dementia later in life because they weren't intellectually challenging themselves. We're not saying you should give up Google maps, but exercising your mind with some good ol' puzzles can help get your noggin get back in shape.
7. Or, play a video game.
Video games can actually improve your hand-eye coordination, mental-rotation skills (which you use when you read a map or drive in traffic), and ability to focus on two things at once, a showed. Of course, this is not a substitute for getting your sweat on outside. But if you're stuck indoors on a rainy day — or want to spend some time bonding with your tykes — a little Nintendo won't hurt.