Research: US adults spend 44 years staring at screens

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The average US adult will spend the equivalent of 44 years of their life staring at screens.

Research polling 2,000 adults in the US found more than 6,259 hours a year are spent glued to gadgets such as phones, laptops and televisions. That equates to 382,652 hours and 48 minutes over the average adult lifetime of 60.7 years

Up to four and a half hours a day will be spent looking at TV screens, with almost five hours staring at laptops and three hours and 12 minutes using gaming devices. Smartphones also take up four hours and 33 minutes of an adult’s daily screen time.

But while citizens are spending more than 17 hours a day on screens during normal life, this figure has increased dramatically since lockdown – with folks spending an additional two hours glued to their gadgets to stave off boredom. Indeed more than three-quarters of adults admit they would have been lost without their screens with social distancing measures in place.

“We’re lucky to have devices that connect us with the outside world,” said Benjamin Dumaine, Optician and Head of Business Development for Vision Direct, which commissioned the study. “A similar pandemic taking place 30 or 40 years ago would have been people coping with the lack of contact in very different ways. However, it’s important to be aware of what excess screen time can do in terms of your eye health and keep on top of overdoing it when it comes to screens. We’d suggest making the most of medical professionals’ advice to exercise, to help give that essential screen break.”

But despite the time spent on devices, people believe less than half the time they spend on these devices is ‘productive.’ And for those adults currently working from home, one quarter feel less productive than ever before due to the easy access they have to their gadgets.

More than half of those at home often take breaks from work to go on Facebook, while 42 per cent find themselves watching YouTube videos and four in 10 like to browse Twitter. LinkedIn and Instagram are also getting more views than usual at this time, according to the OnePoll data.

It takes less than 10 minutes for the average adult to look at a screen after waking up each day – with six in 10 taking a glance within five minutes.

Social media is most likely to be the first thing checked – with 38 per cent of adults claiming this is what most of their screen time is dedicated to.

While 37 per cent frequently watch TV, 29 per cent are on screen for work and 23 per cent consult their phone or laptop when they want to do a bit of shopping.

Worryingly, seven in 10 adults say their eyes can feel strained from looking at screens too much. And yet, four in 10 rarely remember to rest their eyes hourly – while 20 per cent never take a break.

As well as the physical impact of significant screen time, the research found it can have an effect on relationships and family time. Six in 10 adults in relationships have had an argument with their partner over the amount of time they spend staring at screens.

Almost half of parents think their kids spend too long glued to their gaming devices or phones and 41 per cent find it challenging to manage how much screen time they get.

A further 21 per cent feel guilty about how much time their offspring spend looking at TVs or computers. But 75 per cent feel hypocritical for telling their kids off about screen time when the adults in the house are just as guilty.

“There are positives and negatives with screen time, but as long as people are mindful of when to limit use, there doesn’t need to be any long term damage,” added Benjamin Dumaine. “Screens play a very valuable part in our lives, now so more than ever, but if people follow our guidelines they can maintain good eye health.”


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