Digital screen time during COVID-19 pandemic: A public health concern

The use of digital screens, including television, computers, mobile phones, and smart devices, can be associated with a wide range of health outcomes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, different population groups may have been adapted to varying levels of screen time, which may have profound implications on their health and wellbeing. The available evidence suggests that screen time is associated with obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, myopia, depression, sleep disorders, and many other noncommunicable diseases. This elevated burden of diseases is prevalent among individuals who have sedentary lifestyles and other unhealthy behaviors that are likely to increase during quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. As several empirical studies have reported a rising trend of screen time during this pandemic, it is critical to assess the adverse health outcomes that may appear as its long-term consequences globally. Researchers and practitioners need to revisit the available guidelines and incorporate evidence-based interventions for preventing unhealthy screen time among the affected individuals. Such interventions may address not only unhealthy screen use behavior but also promote active lifestyles that may improve health across populations during and after this pandemic.
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