Computers have revolutionized the world of knowledge and communications. Today one cannot think of doing any work without computers. Majority of the people are so much hooked to the computer that they cannot even think of using books or papers to read or write something.
But using computers for a long time is not healthy. The computer is after all a machine and like any other machine, working on it for much time can produce some problems.
First part of the body to be affected by computers is the eyes. Using computers involves looking at a screen for long hours continuously which tends to strain the eyes. This results in visual problems.
Frequent headache and eye infections follow as a sequel. In growing children, computer along with electronic video games is a big source for causing myopia, where children fail to see distant objects clearly.
This happens because the far sight is used less frequently by them in contrast to children who play in open grounds.
Back is another part which suffers due to computer use. While working on computers, one tends to sit for long hours in chairs.
Result is, there is sagging of the back muscles due to the pull of gravity, subjecting them to strain and wear and tear. Moreover one often bends the upper back slightly forward to type on the key board, putting further stress on muscles.
Now if this process is repeated everyday, the body finds no time to repair the damage caused to muscles. Result is chronic back pain.
While typing on computers, fingers are constantly moving on the key board for hours together, which results in painful cramps of the fingers.
This is again because of the strain put on joints and muscles of the fingers. The median nerve tends to be affected causing what is known as, “carpal tunnel syndrome.” In this there are abnormal sensations like tingling and numbness in the hands, along with severe electric like or burning pain.
As this persists chronically, some unfortunate individuals may deteriorate and develop partial or total loss of sensation also.
Apart from these physical hazards, one has to be vigilant for problems affecting the mental health also. With many things being saved in the memory of the computer, a computer savvy man has started using less of God given memory.
Over a period of time this tends to get blunted due to disuse.
The risk is more for children and growing adults. As such also it is said that man uses about one fourth of the potential of his brain, now with computers, it may not be surprising if some study is done and we find that only a fraction of grey matter is being used for daily working.
I do not say that use of computers should be stopped or banned. What is needed is some prudence and precaution in its use.
When one has to use a computer for long hours everyday, one should keep the eyes healthy. Lighting of the room should be such as to fall on the screen in front of the user and not behind it.
After working for an hour or 2 on the computer, one should cover eyes by hands for a few moments to give them rest.
Intake of fresh green vegetables, carrots, papaya, whole grains, e.t.c. keeps the eye muscles healthy. Washing eyes by splashing them with cold water, 2 or 3 times every day is a good practice to keep them healthy and relaxed.
Straight back chairs should be used for sitting and hard beds for sleeping to keep back free from stress. Bending the back should be avoided totally.
After working with computers for few hours, a person can stand straight on toes, stretch body slowly and lift arms up with hands interlocked.
This simple exercise will relax and rejuvenate the muscles of the back.
Similarly regular exercise of the hands is needed to avoid muscle cramps and related problems. If somebody has already developed these problems, it is advised to splint the affected hand by a crepe bandage till pain persists.
Children should be encouraged to play physical games and indulge in other creative hobbies instead of being on the computer all day for entertainment. That will ensure their good over all personality development.
We need computers but should not become their physical and mental slaves.
The author is a specialist in Internal Medicine.
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org