Social media is part of our lives, but what are the pitfalls?

Photo by Rebecca Harris on Unsplash

World Social Media Day is just around the corner, taking place on Tuesday 30 June. The global awareness day was born as a way to recognise and celebrate social media's influence on communications.

With arguably increased social media and online content consumption during isolation, it’s a good opportunity to look at the impact social media has on other aspects of our lives, for instance our eye health.

Over the years, scrolling, liking, commenting, sharing has become the norm - whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, many of us are constantly staring at our devices in this increasingly digital age.

Insights from web analytics company SimilarWeb indicate that on average, Australians spend around 58 minutes a day on Facebook and 53 minutes a day on Instagram. Finding a sweet spot of time spent on social media can be difficult, as often we get trapped in a cycle of endless scrolling. Psychologists recommend that we spend a maximum of 30 minutes a day on social media because it can lead to better mental health outcomes.

Eye health is another important consideration. While using social media, it’s important to be aware of the impact excessive screen time can have on our eyes, as it could lead to digital eye strain.

Digital eye strain is a common eye condition associated with prolonged digital device use which may cause red or sore eyes, blurry vision or headaches. A US based report showed nearly nine out of 10 millennials (87 per cent) use two or more devices simultaneously, of whom 73 per cent reported symptoms of digital eye strain. The same research found that an additional 66 per cent of people in their forties experienced digital eye strain.

There are a number of steps we can take to prevent digital eye strain, such as adjusting screen display settings by adapting the brightness to match surroundings, or increasing the text size to ensure online copy is comfortable to read.

Implementing the 20/20/20 rule is another effective way to protect the eyes from digital eye strain: be sure to look away from your screen every 20 minutes, for a minimum of 20 seconds, at an object that is around 20 metres away.

World Social Media Day gives us a good reason to look at our online and social media consumption and put in place some boundaries to prevent digital eye strain and ensure good eye health. Champions of the Good vision for life campaign, Mason Cox, who's football career was impacted by a serious eye injury and lifestyle influencer Alice Zaslavsky know a thing or two about good eye health, as both have been keen to share the importance of protecting your eyes to their social media followers.

Social media is also a useful tool in which we share informative and important messaging around good eye health and the importance of visiting an optometrist - to find out more be sure to follow our Instagram and or Facebook page @goodvisionforlife.

If you’re concerned about the impact digital devices may be having on your eyes, or you are experiencing any changes to your vision, contact your local optometrist for expert advice or to book an eye examination.

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