A sudden upsurge in screen addiction was recorded soon after the lockdown was imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is no less than an epidemic as the youth has now become addicted to these gadgets more than ever. Every fourth person is said to suffer from stroke once in their lifetime but the younger population is now more susceptible to stroke due to the increased screen time. Dr. Vipul Gupta, Director, Neurointervention, Agrim Institute of Neuroscience, Artemis Hospital Gurgaon believes that digital detox is the only solution to prevent the risk.
Earlier, stroke was mostly seen in elderly people but now the younger population is more susceptible to this. A recent study has shown a downward trend where the cases of stroke are mostly seen in youth aged 25 to 45 years. The risk is almost doubly higher in India as compared to other developed countries including the US.
More Screen time, higher the stroke risk
According to a study, life expectancy and digital screen time are inversely proportional. Every hour of increased digital screen time reduces the lifespan by 22 minutes. Screen addiction is also associated with the risk of stroke, heart attacks and cancer. A person who is physically active along with screen usage has comparatively lesser risk than others with prolonged screen time.
Addiction of gadgets and increased screen time in youth are dangerous
Over a period of time, a person develops screen addiction which is nearly the same as addiction of recreational substances. It might not affect internal health but it has serious implications on overall health and quality of life. When you are enjoying doing something, your brain releases dopamine chemicals that would refrain you from shifting your focus to anything else. Youth who is pleasantly involved with screens often fail to have food on time, spend time with family, go out for a walk, socialize, etc. This is no less than dangerous due to the increased levels of dopamine in the body.
The recommended digital screen consumption is 2 hours beyond which the risk of stroke increases by 20% per hour. This is alarming as parents need to take a stand and get strict with children to reduce screen usage to avert the risk of stroke.
Measures to negate the effects
The blue light emitting from digital devices is catastrophic for your eyes. Especially if you use them in a dark room and almost daily. These affect the melatonin secretion that signals your brain to rest and go into sleep mode. This is why people don’t get sleep when using their phones.
Doctors have found that one needs to engage in physical activities to reduce the health risks that screen addiction can bring including obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart ailments, etc. For every 20 minutes spend on screen, one must do 5 minutes of physical activity. It could be anything from jogging to brisk walking to rope skipping.
Decrease screen time for kids as their brain is underdeveloped and this habit may harm them. Also, adults shouldn’t be exposed to screens for more than 2 hours a day.
Why digital detox is important?
By considering the above recommendations, the risk of stroke in youth can be minimised. Digital detox is, therefore, a must. It helps in reconnecting with oneself and family to restore health. It also allows the person to get rid of the risks associated with screen time.
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