How Internet Browsing Negatively Impacts You

Are you feeling the effects of too much time spent online?

Too Much Internet Browsing
Photo © Deux / Getty Images

The average American spends five hours on their mobile device, and that doesn't even include time spent looking at other screens like laptops and televisions. That's a lot of screen time for the average person, but what's really considered too much?

Any amount of device use that negatively impacts a person's physical, mental and emotional health could be considered too much. If you can relate to any of the situations listed below, it may be time to cut back on the amount of time you spend online and with your devices in general.

You're Sitting Too Much While You're Browsing

A study by the University of Toronto found that sitting for 8 to 12 hours or more a day leads to more hospitalization, heart disease, cancer and early death—even if you exercise regularly.

Whether you're at work in the office or at home on the couch, web browsing often goes hand in hand with being sedentary. What's truly shocking about the study's findings from the risk of too much sitting is that even taking a small slot of time out of your day to hit the gym can't undo its damage.

What to Do:

Standing desks and treadmill desks being used both in the office and at home are among some of the new and trendy ways you can keep moving all day long. If that's not possible, you can also download an app or use a website that has a timer and alarms you to get up, step away from the computer and walk around for two minutes about every half hour.

The Light from Your Screen Can Mess With Your Sleep

Digital eye strain caused by blue light-emitting screens from televisions, computers, and smartphones can disrupt your sleep. Your insomnia or tossing and turning at night may be a result of staring at screens to close to bedtime. Blue light exposure can make you feel more awake at night because it sends the message to your body that it's still daytime, thus impacting the sleep hormone melatonin and causing delayed sleep onset.

What to Do:

The simple (but not necessarily easy) fix for this problem is to limit exposure to light-emitting screens close to bedtime. If you have a hard time giving up your screen time at night, consider wearing a pair of blue light-blocking amber tinted glasses while browsing your laptop, tablet or phone at least a couple hours before bed.

You Might Be Hurting Your Neck and Back

Tilting your head to look down at your smartphone puts more stress on your neck, which could be severe enough to cause permanent damage. 

The term "text neck" is now being used to describe the neck pain or headaches people experience from prolonged periods of time tilting their heads at unnatural angles to stare down at their smartphone of tablet. The average person's head weighs 10 to 12 pounds when held naturally upright, but when tilted down at a 60-degree angle, that weight stress on the spine increases to 60 pounds.

What to Do:

Make an effort to look at devices in a neutral position as often as possible, use voice recognition and make phone calls ​rather than text, or at the very least take breaks and avoid spending lots of time hunched over your phone. As with almost all technology that competes for hours of our attention, bad posture is often always a concern.

Your Mental Health Could Suffer

Numerous studies have shown links between social media use and anxiety (and even depression). All sorts of studies are being carried out nowadays to measure the impact of social media on users' psychological and emotional well-being.

While some studies show that heavy users of social media report increased feelings of loneliness and less time spent with people face to face, other reports suggest that social media also can have a positive impact on people—such as the lower stress levels experienced by women who use social media, according to a recent Pew report. In extreme cases, heavy social media use can lead to or worsen deteriorating relationships, self-esteem issues, social anxiety and even cyber bullying.

What to Do:

If you think you might be suffering from any these things, consider talking to a professional who can help you, cut way back on your time spent online, clean up your social networks from friends or connections that may be "toxic" and spend more time doing what you love with the people you like to be around.