How long can you spend at the screen without harm to your health?

Scientists warn that long hours of work at the computer can provoke depression.

People spend more than a quarter of their lives on the Internet, can you imagine? On average, this is 6-7 hours a day, and even more on weekends – do not miss the new episode of your favorite TV series! Such a lifestyle not only spoils vision, but also drives depression – scientists say this. So if your day starts and ends with a phone in hand or at a computer monitor, this article is for you.

Does a computer really have a negative effect on vision?

The first studies on the negative impact of computers on human health appeared in the late 1990s – by that time more than 100 countries were connected to the network (then the word “Internet” did not exist). In 1998, another article about the dangers of screens was published in the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior. Then the experts did not give specific numbers. And only in 2017, researchers calculated the time that can be spent at the monitor without harm to health.

Here’s what happened: less than six hours is the norm, more is possible, but there is a risk of developing depression or another mental disorder. A year later, experts increased the “normal” range to 7-8 hours.


Since then, science has not advanced much in the study of this issue, and research on this topic is already outdated. Experts simply do not keep pace with the development of technology. Moreover, now truly harmful monitors are no longer produced.

How to reduce harm from a computer?

In 2018, the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study that showed that screen timeout of 30 minutes a day reduced health risks. But the “safe” time for everyone is individual and largely depends on age, the ophthalmologist notes.

Children under two years of age are generally not recommended to be allowed to the screens. Up to five years, you can watch about 20 minutes, from five to seven years – 40 minutes. Students can sit at the computer for about an hour. In this case, the continuous time at the screen should not exceed half an hour. In adults, after four hours of working at a computer, computer syndrome can develop.


What is the threat? Deterioration and blurred vision, intraocular pressure, pain in the eyes and neck, migraines. Computer syndrome can be recognized by dry and red eyes, chronic fatigue, and decreased visual acuity. Another consequence that those who like to hang on the phone may encounter is carpal tunnel syndrome. It manifests itself as numbness in the hands and pain in the area of ​​the fingers. All of this can be avoided by following simple rules.

Reduce screen time. Predicting your indignation, I’ll beat you to say: the most valuable advice is obvious.

Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Its essence is to take a break of 20 seconds every 20 minutes. During this time, look at a point 20 feet away (about six meters). Excuses are not accepted – set a reminder or an alarm. This can be done using special timer widgets, for example, Minutes for macOS and WorkRave for Windows.

Do gymnastics for the eyes. The ophthalmologist advises to periodically perform exercises, for example, this. Stretch your hand out in front of you – look first at your thumb, then into the distance, at the horizon. Hold your gaze in each position for 10 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times. By the way, playing sports like badminton and table tennis train your eyes well.

Use glasses with a blue filter. They absorb the brightness of the screen and block the blue spectrum. Manufacturers claim that such an accessory will help preserve eyesight and improve the quality of sleep.

Put your phone away an hour before bedtime. At the very least, don’t go to bed with your smartphone in your hands if you don’t want to suffer from insomnia.

To use time wisely.  Instead of mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed for hours, spend that time researching something really important. Author of the book Deviced! Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World Doreen Dodgen-Magee argues that screen time spent profitably doesn’t hurt.

Monitor screen time. Most smartphones have long had a feature that tracks the time spent on websites and applications. The report can be viewed in the phone settings in the “Screen time” section.

Decrease the screen brightness when it gets dark. Light interferes with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which is bad for your well-being. Optionally, you can apply a matte film to the screen to reduce glare and blue light exposure to 30% –60% blue light.

Set the screen to monochrome. On iOS, you need to go to the settings and in the “Display adaptation” section, select the “Grayscale” item. On Android, you can download the Monochrome app. In this mode, everything is displayed in black and white: in this case, the pictures become less attractive. This will help to reduce the distraction of the device and save battery power.

Keep the phone 30 cm from your face. The computer monitor should be placed no closer than 60 cm from the eyes, the TV – 300 cm. In this case, one can only sympathize with the short-sighted, but there is also a way out for them – to wear special glasses for reading. The accessory is selected according to the doctor’s recommendations and examination results.

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