is digital harming our health?

Two Sides has urged UK consumers to improve their health by turning to print, after a recent report found that almost half of consumers believe the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health. Two Sides has highlighted the potential health problems of using electronic devices too much and suggested turning to print for a break.

The survey found 46% of consumers were concerned about the negative impact of such devices on their health, while 47% agreed that they use digital devices too much.

Perhaps more interesting is that in terms of age demographics, it was younger respondents who were more concerned about their health.  The report found 74% of 8-24 year-olds said they spend too much time on electronic devices, compared to 48% of 35-44 year-olds and 29% of those 55 and over.

In response to the findings, Two Sides says: “The amount of digital information that’s being created, consumed and shared every day is staggering.  In just one minute of an average day, Google receives over 4,000,000 search queries You Tube users upload 72 hours of new video, Facebook users share 2,460,000 pieces of content, and Apple users download 48,000 apps.  By the time you will have finished reading this article; those numbers will have increased further.

“All this content consumption brings with it a host of potential health issues for the user.  Anxiety, depression, addiction, isolation, narcissism, all is becoming more and more common, particularly amongst the young.

“And while the mental strain is certainly troubling, there are also physical issues linked to excessive computer use, such as vision impairment, neck strain, hearing loss and insomnia.  While it’s undoubtedly a channel that solves a lot of modern-day problems, it also creates a few.”

All this content consumption brings with it a host of potential health issues for the user.

However, Two Sides went on say “all is not lost”, suggesting that the action of reading a print publication can help reduce this harm. Referring back to the research, 69% of consumers agreed that it is important to switch off from electronics, and enjoying printed books or magazine is an effective way to do so.

“Print is kinder on our eyes, brains and sleep patterns, and could be an effective cure for those suffering from digital overload,” Two Sides says.  Two Sides also went on to quote Harvard University neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang, who recently compared the effects of reading on a light-emitting device compared with a printed book, and found a big difference in the sleep patterns of the two sets of people.

Chang says: “Participants who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep and had higher alertness before bedtime than those people who read printed books.

“We also found that after an eight-hour sleep episode, those who read on the light emitting device were sleepier and took longer to wake up.”