Computers have been one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. They have helped in simplifying the lives of humans as we get to perform functions and tasks a lot easier. Computers are utilized in different sectors including health, transport, engineering, and also agriculture. Almost every literate adult in Nigeria and other parts of the world own or know how to use a computer. Desktop computers adorn the desks of many offices while more than 65% of individuals in the world own a personal computer. Computers have helped in simplifying the lives of humans but we can’t ignore the fact that the use of computers also poses a serious threat to our health.
It is true that a computer is no doubt useful in our everyday life, both personal and business or work life. It is also true that prolonged use of a computer can be a serious risk to our health as well. We have come to accept computers as a means of getting things done smoothly that we sit in front of it for countless hours daily without keeping in mind the risks associated with prolonged exposure to the use of computers. While we cannot completely avoid the use of computers to prevent these health challenges, it is mandatory that we are aware of the potential risks of too much computer exposure so as we can be better informed on how to prevent these health challenges.
Computer games are also another major cause of health-related problems associated with computer use. Kids and even grown adults spend countless hours playing games which can either be PC or other forms of video games. While they may offer a good form of entertainment, they also pose a great risk to our health. It will be completely futile to try and advocate against the use of computer games, but it is important that we all are aware of the health challenges associated with using computers.
There are many health challenges in Nigeria, but one that is getting little or no attention is the risk of overexposure to computers and other computer-related devices. The society needs to be aware of the potential risks and dangers associated with the use of computers and limit the overall exposure.
20 Major Health Challenges Associated With The Use of Computers: How To Avoid Them
- Back Pain
This is by far the most common problem associated with using a computer. If you spend more than 3 hours sitting in front of a computer, then you would have at one point encountered a back pain. The major cause of back pain is usually a poor sitting posture or sitting for a long period of time. When you sit for a long period of time it leads to muscular fatigue which results in tiredness and backache. To completely avoid back pain while using a computer, you will need to ensure that your work desk and chair are perfectly aligned to ensure that you don’t encounter difficulty while working on your computer. You will also have to make it a most to take occasional breaks from sitting in front of your computer. Go for a walk and stretch your body to free muscles and improve blood supply to bones and tendons.
While you can get a headache from running for a long time under the scorching sun, you can also get a headache from sitting in front of your computer screen. The light from your screen falls on your retina and is transmitted to the brain and this repeated continuous process can lead to headaches. Also, the reduced circulation of blood to tendons, muscles, and bones can also lead to headaches. While it will be almost impossible to avoid a headache while running under the scorching sun, it is easy to avoid computer-related headaches. To avoid headaches while using a computer, you will need to ensure that the brightness of your screen is reduced or better still keep it at the midpoint where it isn’t too bright and dim but perfect to work with. You also need to take breaks to reduce your exposure time. Sitting position is another thing you need to work on to avoid headaches while using a computer. Ensure that your desk and chair are properly leveled and comfortable to work on.
- Eye strain
The human eye is structured in a manner that it naturally prefers to look at objects at a distance of 6 meters or more, so any work done at a nearer distance puts extra demands on your eye muscles. Fatigue can occur when you focus your eye at the same distance for long periods of time. Even the illuminated screen of a computer can also cause eye fatigue. Though there isn’t any scientific evidence to prove that eye fatigue can damage your eyesight, it has been observed that blurred vision, a temporary inability to focus on faraway objects and headaches are often associated with computer use. To avoid these problems, make sure there is no direct light source shining into your face or on the screen of the computer. Also, ensure the contrast and brightness of your computer screen are regularly controlled. You can also carry out regular eye examinations to avoid eye disorders that can lead to permanent damage.
- Stress Disorders
It is common knowledge that technology can impact on human behavior and emotions. Computer use over a long period can also make you easily susceptible to stress in your work environment, it can also lead to poor health. The more stressed you become, the more susceptible you are to have other health issues like loss of concentration, dizziness, and weariness. So it necessary for you to be proactive and take effective measures to relieve stress before it leads to major health problems. Once you figure you are becoming stressed out lately, trying natural remedies like yoga and meditation can go a long way in relieving stress.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The computer-induced health hazard called Carpal tunnel syndrome is a major risk factor involved with regular typing and use of mouse over a prolonged period. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that results in pain, numbness and tingling sensations in the hand and arm. It occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand (the median nerve) is squeezed or compressed as it moves through the wrist. There is a debate on whether the continuous and prolonged use of computers can lead to the carpal tunnel syndrome.
The American medical association, for example, disagrees that the regular use of a computer can give rise to the Carpal tunnel syndrome, while another school of thought advocates that repeated keystrokes, clutching the mouse tightly can cause strain to the wrist muscles, tendons, and ligaments which can lead to the Carpal tunnel syndrome. This strain can accumulate over a long period and cause swelling of the affected muscles, ligaments and tendon which results in compression of the nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel. When you find yourself experiencing this condition, it is important to know that exercising the wrist will help. Move the wrist anticlockwise and clockwise ten times, two or three times a day. Do not get in the habit of holding the mouse tightly, and try using the mouse with both hands.
- Mental Stress and Depression
Regularly spending long hours in front of a computer can affect your mental bearing. It makes for very little time to socialize or have any outdoor recreation and fun. This can cause mental stress that can lead to depression over time. So it is, therefore, necessary to take small breaks from the computer to spend time socializing with friends and family.
- Neck And Shoulder Problems (Cervical Spondylosis)
Typing on the keyboard or reading from the computer screen over prolonged periods can cause neck and shoulder problems known as cervical spondylosis over time. Your neck and shoulder stay in the same position for a prolonged period when you type or read from a computer screen which can result in muscle strain. The neck and shoulder muscles are very important because they support the cervical vertebrae of the vertebral column, and due to the continuous strain placed on these muscles because of your computer habits, they become fatigued and start to weaken. The weakened cervical muscles can no longer hold the cervical vertebrae and can slip from its original position which will result in spondylosis. This can cause headaches and pain in the neck and shoulder. If you find yourself suffering from this condition, it is necessary you seek and follow the advice of a bone specialist or the situation may worsen. He may prescribe some neck exercises and drugs or even a cervical collar for straightening things up.
- Vision Problems
Bright lights, flickering images or bad glares at a computer screen can damage your eyesight. When you constantly focus on a screen without blinking can often result in dry eyes. It can also lead to computer vision syndrome CVS. Computer vision syndrome is a condition that is caused by focusing the eyes on any display device for uninterrupted periods of time. Symptoms of CVS include blurred vision, irritated eyes, double vision, vertigo/dizziness, polyopia and difficulty refocusing the eyes. So it is important that when you are focused on your computer, try to regularly low away. Also maintaining proper distance from your screen can help. You can tilt your computer screen to avoid glare and don’t forget to blink.
Studies show that continuous and nonstop use of computers especially in children is the major contributing factor to childhood obesity and an inactive lifestyle. For parents, it is important to set limits for your children if they insist on playing computer games for prolonged periods and encourage your children to take up a hobby, play outdoor games or engage in outdoor activities. Involving them in extracurricular activities can go a long way in reducing the amount of time they sit in front of a computer playing games. Adults who spend 7-8 hours working should concentrate on relaxing body and minds after work and not spend time on the computer after reaching home. Staying physically active can go a long way in combating obesity.
- Computer Addiction
There is no denying that computers can provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment. However, some computer users become addicted to the computer and the internet. This addiction is a growing health problem because it can consume someone’s entire social life. Obsession with the computer and internet can lead to a situation known as Internet addiction disorder (IAD). Internet addiction disorder is used to describe the condition of users who are dependent on the internet or users who are abusing the internet.
To know someone who is addicted to the internet, symptoms include: overjoyed when at the computer, craving of computer time, unable to stop computer activity, irritated when not at the computer, the user tends to neglect family and friend and regularly has problems at school.
Computer addiction can be treated through different means and the most important of them all is family therapy. Sometimes one might get addicted to the computer because of lack of attention and once we have this, it can go a long way to reducing computer addiction. Other ways to treat computer addiction includes having support groups that are friends that can help you to control your addiction. It also helps to control yourself by abstinence and setting goals to motivate yourself by believing there is always a way out of your addiction.
You can also treat addiction by installing software on your computer to restrict access to sites that you compulsively visit. Find a trustworthy friend to keep the password for the software so that you don’t re-engage. It is also very important and useful if you can learn to face and tackle your problems. Whatever made you be addicted in the first place, learn to face it and create a resolution towards it.
- Sleep Disorder
Sleep disorder is a lack of ability to sleep well on a regular basis, it is now proven that a rigorous amount of time spent on your computer device can be linked with this particular disorder. The light from your computer screen affects the production of melatonin in the brain, and in turn prevent or interrupt you from getting a deep and refreshing sleep, which can later result to an increase in stress and anxiety, so it’s best to regulate the amount of time you spend on your computer daily.
- Muscle and Joint Problem
This problem is caused by, placing your body in a, particularly odd fashion for a long period of time while working on your computer device. This will then result in pain in your joints and muscles and might cause damaging problems. The pain may vary from mild to severe depending on how the case may be, this can lead to stiffness of the joint, difficulty moving or in some cases partial paralysis. To prevent this from happening is probably best to manage a good posture while using your computer.
- Behavioral Problems
A lot of behavioral problems have emerged from too much use of computers today. Some of these behavioral problems include hyperactivity and laziness.
Hyperactivity refers to a constant activity, being easily distracted, aggression, inability to concentrate, and impulsiveness, or similar behaviors. When you become hyperactive you become unhappy, which in turn can make you depressed and secluded from other people or the outside world.
Laziness is another behavioral deficiency that can result from too much use of computers. When you spend much time on your computer you become lazy towards other activities and this can be very bad for you.
- Photosensitive Epilepsy (PSE)
This is a type of epilepsy in which seizures are caused by visual stimuli that generate patterns in time or space, such as flashing lights, bold or regular moving patterns.
People with photosensitive Epilepsy experience seizures from exposure to some type of visual stimuli, from flashing lights or moving images. The severity of this seizure may differ from one patient to another. A patient might experience or feel odd before the seizure might occur and this can serve as a warning to the patient to stay away or move from these flashing lights or images.
Scoliosis is a condition caused by Cerebral palsy and Muscular dystrophy. Most cases are easily treated, while some are extremely severe. The severe ones can lead to spine deformity or a spinal curve that can reduce the amount of space in the region of your chest, therefore making it almost impossible for the lungs to properly function. It can also lead to major complications which include heart damage, Back damage, or as the case may worsen some noticeable changes to your appearance, such as uneven shoulders, uneven hips, and prominent ribs. This problem can easily be avoided by maintaining a healthy posture while using your computer
- Injuries Caused By Repetitive Movements
These types of injuries are caused by continuous physical movements that result in damaging your muscles, your nerves, your tendons, and other soft body parts. To remedy this kind of injuries it is important you take some breaks when using your computer to move and stretch your body, you also consistently keep your hands and shoulders relaxed, you also need to adjust your sitting positions from time to time and lastly you apply a little amount of force when using your keyboard or mouse. If you stick to these remedies you are more than likely never to encounter any of these injuries.
- Brain Damage
A large amount of time you spend on your computer screen can result in potential brain damage, most particularly in a young and developing child. It affects the Frontal lobe, which is responsible for functions such as planning prioritizing, and organizing in the sense that you are unable to get anything done. It also affects the Insula which is responsible for the ability to develop feelings and compassion towards other people, which can lead to violent and unstable behavior. So it’s best to reduce the amount of time you spend in front of your computer each day.
- Reduced Life Span
Sitting down for too long can result in life-threatening diseases or even death. When you sit in a spot for so long it affects your blood circulation and it can result in death. So it is appropriate to loosen up and find other alternatives, you can take break and change positions from time to time, you can acquire a standing desk so as you can spend most of your time standing upright while using your computer, it is also important you exercise before and after spending time with your computer.
This is when the flow of blood from a particular part of your brain is cut-off due to lack of oxygen in the blood. There are different causes of stroke and one of them is the computer we use today.
When you get addicted to your computer screen you get a high tendency of gaining weight, and when you are overweight your chances of stroke may go up, mostly in the case of elderly people. You can reduce the odds of getting stroke by doing regular exercise, also by walking regularly jugging and performing other types of muscle-strengthening exercise.
- Brain Fog
Brain fog isn’t a medical term; it’s only a term that phrases the feeling of forgetfulness, confusion, and mental clarity. It is easily curable and easily avoidable.
This is one of the results of staring at your computer screen for more than seven hours a day. So if you find yourself experiencing any of these feelings it’s best that you limit the use of your computer daily. You can reduce your time to five or a maximum of six hours every day, you should also avoid looking at your computer screen before immediately going to bed. The more you do this the better you become.
So in conclusion, having see the major risks associated with the use of computer, even though some are inevitable, they can be minimized or better put managed to avoid the above listed health challenges or complications that could arise with the use of computers or electronic devices, always remember to apply modesty in all you do.
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