We heart our smartphones. They keep us connected to friends, maps, cute videos of cats freaked out by cucumbers, late-night games of Candy Crush, the latest celeb gossip, weather, and when that pair of Frye boots we’ve been coveting FINALLY go on sale. But being oh-so-glued to our phones may be making us … nauseous.
Did you think we were going to say rude? Or distracted? That’s another post, sister.
Today, we’re talking about a little something called “digital motion sickness,” and so far there is NOT an app to fix it. Some people feel dizzy and sick to their stomachs after using their smartphones, iPads, or laptops. Others get a headache or feel eye strain.
Women who are prone to other kinds of motion sickness — the old-fashioned kind, like you get in a moving car — are more at risk of digital motion sickness. So are peeps who get migraines or have suffered a concussion.
We know what you’re wondering. HOW does this happen? After all, you’re not moving when you’re on your phone or sitting in front of your computer.
But that’s kinda the prob. Your screen IS. You’re seeing movements — say, from a game or those blasted cats in a YouTube clip — that your body can’t feel.
More from The Stir: 6 Reasons Your Smartphone Is Bad for You (Yes, You on the Smartphone!)
“I’ve treated many patients for vertigo and positional dizziness whose symptoms are worsened with prolonged computer use,” Clifford Segil, MD, a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells The Stir. “I have many patients in the video game industry who complain of feelings of movement when not playing video games.”
Several studies say this can affect 50 percent to 80 percent of people.
And that icky, tilt-a-whirl feeling doesn’t go away as soon as you put down your phone. A clumsy lack of balance — almost as if you’ve tossed back a few drinks — can linger for a while. As you can imagine, that could be downright dangerous if you’re about to, say, drive a car.
At least for iOS users, there is a way to reduce all the visual stimuli you’re hit with on your smartphone. In Settings, go to General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion.
You can also try to avoid triggers for your symptoms, advises Dr. Segil. “Pay attention to the amount of time you spend sitting in front of [a screen] before symptoms present, then take scheduled breaks before then,” he says. “For some, it may be a half hour; for others it may be longer.”
Relax. No one’s going to tell you to unplug completely. “We’re living in a digital world,” admits Dr. Sigel. “I could not advise to avoid [screens] altogether.”
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