Diagnosing Online Readers

August 3, 2016

The side effects of reading on the screen are starting to sound a lot like the insert in my asthma medication. Every time you write a blog post, web page, news release or social media status update, you are subjecting your readers to:

1. Insomnia: People who read on their iPads before bedtime take longer to fall asleep, enjoy less REM sleep and suffer body-clock confusion, according to a 2015 study by Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women’s Hospital. One of my goals in life is to never write anything that makes my readers feel as if they’ve just stumbled off a flight from Boston to Bhutan.

2. Eye strain: People who spend hours staring at a screen suffer chemical changes in their tears similar to folks with dry eye, according to a 2014 Japanese Dry Eye Society study. Symptoms include irritation, burning and blurred vision. Is your web presence a “site” for sore eyes?

3. Screen-sightedness: The number of people with advancing myopia — that’s shortsightedness to the non-optometrists among us — has increased by 35 percent since the launch of smartphones in 1997, according to David Allamby, founder of Focus Clinics, in a 2013 analysis. Turns out our eyes weren’t made to read emails from iPhones.

4. Backache: Americans are experiencing more back, neck and shoulder pain because of their handheld devices, according to a 2007 study by the American Chiropractic Association. This means that reading your Facebook page on an iPhone is literally a pain in the neck.

5. Death: Prolonged sitting shortens the average person’s life span by two years, according to a 2010 study by researchers at the American Cancer Society. Sitting for most of the day can also lead to mushy thighs, obesity, heart disease and colon cancer.

MyPRSA Login

Please log in to MyPRSA to read this article, as well as to view and leave comments.

New to PRSA?

Learn more about PRSA membership, and join a professional network you can count on.

Digital Edition