Staring at Facebook for 4 hours a day might be bad for you

Facebook has taken a bit of a bashing recently. Several studies have come out showing the damaging effects it can have on everything from relationships and love life to stress and self-esteem. Even the people who helped build the thing are coming out and declaring it’s “ripping society apart” thanks to its purposely designed “feedback loops”.

For a site that calls itself a ‘social network’ and that brought us ‘Friend’s Day’, the friendly Poke, and the ability to find long-lost classmates from our childhood, these revelations are unexpected, to say the least. But surprising? Not really; from day one when Facebook began as a Tinder-style rating site to more recent reports of how the company has managed not to pay taxes for much of its existence, it’s been clear that the world’s number one social media platform has never cared about the health and well-being of the people who use it. It has one purpose and one purpose only: to keep eyes glued to it for as long as humanly possible.

The short of it is that, unbeknownst to us, we’ve sold our attention for something that even its creators didn’t come close to imagining how destructive and invasive it would be. So today, unless we take active measures to control our use and reduce its impact on our health, we’ll be ever more at the mercy of its power. It all sounds very doom and gloom until you realise it’s actually good news: having discovered the harmful side effects of such technologies, we’re now in the position to make a change for the good of ourselves, our kids, and future generations — before it’s too late.

Many of social media’s side effects are so subtle and progressive they’ve managed to slip under our radars. But one of its effects — also a symptom of too much screen use in general — is all but too noticeable: digital eye strain.

Straining to see the latest post

Digital Eye Strain — also called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) — is a term not for one problem in particular, but rather a group of common problems that come with screen and computer use. Believed to affect 87.7 percent of people aged 18 to 39, symptoms include everything from dry eyes, eye strain, and blurred vision to headaches, neck pain, and shoulder strain. As you’d think, the condition tends to get worse the more time you spend looking at screens.

Although CVS can turn into a complex condition, it’s solution couldn’t be simpler: cut down your screen time. With the long-term health of your eyes and vision at risk, there’s every reason to do just that. But unfortunately, thanks to sites like Facebook that have been said to be as addictive as heroin, cutting back isn’t as easy as it sounds. One proven method to reduce screen time, however, is implementing the 20-20-20 rule.

With the 20–20–20 rule, you take a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away. This not only gives your eyes a well-needed break, but disrupts normally long, uninterrupted blocks of time that are usually lost to Facebook stalking or news feed scrolling. To make the rule even more effective, you can use other methods for combating CVS such as installing a blue light filter on your devices, adjusting text size and contrast on your screens, and reducing overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare.

When staring at Facebook or doing any other screen-based activity for a prolonged period of time, your eyes are pushed into overdrive as they’re constantly refocusing to process text and images. This invariably accelerates ageing of your eyes and has an impact on the long-term health of your vision. Implement the 20-20-20 rule into your life today, along with the other tips we’ve mentioned, and you’ll get many more clear and healthy years out of your eyesight.