During my medical college days, I came across the anatomical concepts of ‘disuse atrophy’ and ‘overuse hypertrophy’. For example, as humans evolved from apes, gaining an erect posture over the years, the entire body weight started falling on the human feet making them grow bigger and stronger, compared to hands. Little did I know that those terms will be in some way applicable to present-day scenario too.
Humans as a species, are the best at adapting. Whatever comes our way, we adapt. We all have started adjusting and living with this pandemic somehow; and in a way adjusted ourselves to the extended hours at the virtual platforms, glued to our phones, tablets, laptops, computers, etc. Even as the world has started opening up, at the same time, new and potentially harmful variants of the deadly coronavirus keep coming out! With these developments around, for years to come, the world will keep hopping between online, hybrid and physical modes, it seems. With the recent online phase, already the eye-neck-shoulder-back muscles and our mind is automatically getting tuned to performing tasks virtually. We are getting used to the bright lights emitting from the gadgets and the sounds of these gadgets going almost directly into the auditory canal, owing to all sorts of listening devices, thanks to technology once again.
With all this, how much is too much? I cannot say this about future generations, but the present ones need to take some important steps towards the sensible use of technology, as the dangers of excessive usage are equally harmful. Issues like disrupted sleep patterns, and deviation in the circadian rhythm; cannot be overlooked for sure.
As a mother of a 10-year-old and the spouse of a workaholic diplomat, who already have increased screen times, a few things that come to my mind are:
- Setting ground rules: I have consciously decided not to provide my child with an individual mobile phone, even though he might be skilled at hinting at the “peer pressure” he faces at school.
- Being a role model: Children learn fast by observing. It is therefore imperative for me to lead by example. Simplest would be to refrain from the urge of picking up any gadget right after waking up and also, at least an hour before sleeping (gives me some mindful moments with the kiddo too!)
- Prioritize sleep: Bedtime needs to be fixed to allow that circadian rhythm to develop and have an uninterrupted sleep of a minimum of 8 hours.
- Surveillance over the content: Want to watch that series for the “grown-ups”, why not use child-lock! Using the internet for academic purposes, for a defined time-period is important too.
- Focus on wellness: with thick glasses, already sitting on the children’s noses these days, it is good to introduce eye exercises, walking on and looking at the greenery, early on in childhood.
Last but not the least, digital detoxification is of paramount importance, now more than ever. Identify your “too much” and work on it accordingly!