How does technology affect your health?

Pause or power down - here's how to keep tabs on your tech use

There’s no denying it, we’re in the middle of a technology take-over. From our lives at home to where we work and how we get there, technological changes have been huge.

We rely on tech day in and day out, but have you ever stopped to think about how technology could be affecting your health? Well you’ve come to the right place. Bear with us – we’re re-connecting in 3, 2, 1.

Earphone ear

Did you know?

Listening to music at full volume through earphones for more than five minutes a day could increase your risk of hearing loss. "The European regulations on control of noise at work state that regular exposure to 85 decibels (dB) can potentially damage hearing – that’s only slightly louder than a hairdryer (held close to the ear)," says Paul C Checkley, clinical director at Harley Street Hearing.

What's the rule of thumb?

"If your music can be heard by others when you’re wearing headphones, it can damage your delicate inner ear," warns Paul. Get yourself some noise-reducing headphones to block out external sounds, perfect for train and plane journeys. Remember, if you have any concerns about your hearing, see your GP.

Tech neck

Did you know?

"Spending hours with your head facing down and your shoulders hunched causes increased tension in the muscles at the back of the neck," explains Dr Craig McLean, principal chiropractor at London’s Putney Chiropractic Centre. "This can lead to poor posture and tension-type headaches. Worse still, it can be a factor in the early degeneration of the lower cervical vertebral segments (the lower back), which can cause serious pain and discomfort."

What’s the advice?

Dr McLean recommends regular breaks from your gadgets every 30 minutes, and to check your posture whilst using your gadgets. "[When you’re looking at the screen] your eyes should be looking straight or slightly up, rather than down. A separate keyboard and mouse can help (as you can then prop your tablet on a stand), and you should avoid putting your device on your lap.”

Dr McLean adds: "Do shoulder shrugs twice a day, too: slowly bring your shoulders up towards your ears, then gently release, and repeat 10 times." Got a spare five minutes before your Monday morning meeting? Why not give it a go!

Screen eye

Did you know?

Hands up who sits in front of a screen day in, day out? Research suggests between 50 percent and 90 percent of people who work at computers suffer from eye strain (also known as computer vision syndrome).

“Staring at a screen for more than three hours a day can cause it, which may lead to headaches and discomfort,” says Kyla Black, a Boots optometrist. “If you’re squinting, which we tend to do when looking at a computer, your blink rate also halves, and so the tear films on eyes aren’t replaced as quickly, making them feel dry.”

What can I do?

Good news, there’s lots you can do to combat dry eyes. “Get in the habit of blinking more often,” says Kyla. “Drinking water can also support tear levels, while lubricating eye drops can help relieve dry-eye symptoms. And don’t forget the 20/20/20 rule,” says Kyla. “Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen at something that’s 20 feet away for 20 seconds.”

Download complete – top tips for keeping your tech and health in check.