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I bet you think this is going to be a post about how we need to spend more time with the kids and less time with our gadgets.

Actually, no. That’s not the reason I am writing this post, although that is a topic all by itself which needs discussion. No, I am here to tell you to step away from the laptop and put down that tablet before it’s too late.

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The first reason for putting down that tablet is the tell-tale strain you feel in your elbow, a tingling in your wrist and that muscle in your shoulder which is beginning to wince.

The second reason for stepping away from your laptop is the fact that your eyes hurt, your neck feels pinched at the base and you now resemble a very good copy of the lead character from the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

About three months ago, I started feeling the warning signs of all of the above symptoms, but chose to ignore them. I told myself what any addict says, ‘I can stop whenever I want to.’

If you’ve been here before, you’d know that I was addicted to blogging. I write two blogs and in addition, I am a work-from-home mom who does freelance editing and content writing work. Apart from that last job, what this boils down to is a lot of time spent online- writing, blogging and networking on social media.

Last week, I woke up with a stabbing pain in my neck, which quickly radiated to my shoulders. That’s when I felt real fear. The very thought of not being able to do my daily tasks, let alone blogging/writing, terrified me. Without delay, I consulted a doctor and she confirmed what I had known all along.

Step away from the laptop and put down that phone and tablet. I suffered. You shouldn't. Prevent body pain due to electronics #addiction and take a break from your #gadgets.

I had iPad Shoulder. Yes, that’s a real affliction. Using a brusque, no-nonsense approach, she told me that I must take steps to reduce this incidence with immediate effect. She said I must do the following:

  1. Cut out all gadget-screen time for one week- Laptop/ Smartphones/ Tablets.
  2. Do no activity which involves bending the neck downward. This extended to reading.
  3. Use hot water compresses on the neck/shoulders to ease pain.
  4. Refrain from activity that involves heavy lifting.

I needed to hear this from a professional in order to get my life back on track. Thanks to her and my pain, I realised that my need to do so much all the time is likely to cause more harm than good.

This anti-radiation case from SafeSleeveCases is meant to protect you from harmful radiation caused by your digital devices.

5 Ways to reduce gadget-induced strain on your body! Click to Tweet

What I have done Taking my health seriously is something that I have consciously started doing. To this end, I now do the following:

1. Monitor my time online: I actually set a timer ( 30 minutes for laptop use/ 15 minutes for Tablet use) and when it goes off, I get up from my chair and walk around, stretching my limbs.

2. Started doing stretches: These are simple stretches anyone can do at home or at work. I found this infographic very useful!

3. Uninstalled many apps on my smartphone: Let’s face it. That screen and your fingers? Not the best of friends. It causes excruciating pain on a long-term basis. Best to switch off completely. I have the laptop and the Tablet for checking my Blog updates and my Facebook notifications. Those will suffice.

4. Stopped using the Tablet in bed: I was the one falling asleep with my eye on the latest blog or the newest parenting article. Today, I fall asleep listening to some good music.

5. Sleep longer: I would barely get 5 hours of sleep each night, thanks to my screen addiction. Now, I switch off everything by 10 p.m. and get to sleep. The more rested you are, the better you are equipped to deal with the world.

When I first shared this situation of mine with my close friends, Tulika Singh sent me this wonderful video to help minimize discomfort while working at the laptop. It is geared towards adults and kids. Do check it out.

In addition, this article by Jack Schofield is an eye-opener on all the things that we do wrong with the laptop and the Tablet.

I hope that what I have shared here today will help many people- those who work in the corporate sector, Stay-at-home moms who turn to gadgets to stay online/connected, Work-from-home moms who spend a lot of time online and children who use gadgets on a regular basis.

Our health lies in our hands. Let’s not throw it away.

Be smart. Turn off that smartphone. It’s going to help you.

*Featured image & pinnable image courtesy: Shutterstock

Laptop on a table with the text overlay: What happens when bloggers get too much screen time and how to prevent it

Shailaja V

Hi there! I'm Shailaja Vishwanath, a blogger with 12 years of blogging experience and a parent to a teen. I work as a digital marketing and social media consultant. From positive parenting tips to useful productivity hacks, social media advice to blogging advice, you'll find them all right here. Welcome to my blog.


Nabanita · November 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

This is so important Shailaja…Glad you are feeling better…I have the same habit..I can't get off the laptop and the entire day I spend in front of the computer anyways because my works requires me to do so…After that I always have a book at hand while lying down …But truly it needs to be monitored and must know not to over do it

Random Thoughts Naba..Dear Central Incisors

elly stornebrink · November 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

This definitely is important Shailaja for us all to be aware of as it is such a common affliction with all the computer work and technology most of us deal with. I need to take precaution too as I sit too much sometimes typing all day, then blogging at night (which takes time including responses and reading, etc.) Thanks for reminding me. I will get off the computer in a moment…am I addicted as well? 😉

rachnacooks · November 6, 2014 at 10:38 am

Shailaja, sorry that you had to go through that pain. But yes, I can understand how this could be a huge problem. Luckily, I don't really spend any time on the tablets but yes, on my chair as I work at my system. All great tips you have shared. I will remember to stretch and blink more. And yes, I try not to use the smartphone for anything else except check mails. Don't use any gadgets in bed either.

Suzy · November 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

Hope you are feeling better Shailaja. Good reminder for all of us. thanks for sharing. I have a rule – smartphone for emergencies only (really hit home the importance of phones during emergencies when Wellington was hit by the big earthquake last year and the city went into a state of panic and chaos). iPad switched off at work and used only on the bus for reading. Daily blogging is an overkill – 1-2 posts per week per blog and limit reading blogs.

Vinitha Dileep · November 6, 2014 at 10:48 am

Those are some very useful points, Shailaja. I do have back pain but it isn't because of laptop usage I think.Have to consult a doctor soon.
I am addicted too. I spend most of the time on the laptop. I do use tablets but not so much. But I don't spend time blogging and reading in the night because of my husband (he complains that I like laptop more than him 🙂 ). Though I was irritated at first now I feel it's for the best. Instead of blogging in the night, we spend our time together watching something. 🙂

Rajlakshmi · November 6, 2014 at 11:44 am

I hope you are feeling a lot better now. Very important points that we all addictive bloggers need to consider 🙂 I sit 8 hours in offc in front of two big screens, so after reaching home I make sure I workout atleast for 30 to 45 minutes, before I even pull my 'blog' chair. I like your idea to switch everything off by 10pm. ahh so difficult!!

Sanch LivingLife · November 6, 2014 at 12:55 pm

iPad shoulder? Seriously? They should be careful — Apple could sue them for the use of it's label!
On a serious note, hope you are feeling better now. I agree that addiction to social media and all the gadgets is on the rise. I check my phone regularly and well, love writing and blogging as you know too. But yeah, we need to take care because there is such a thing as internet addiction as well.

Shailaja V · November 6, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Thanks everyone. Yes, I am feeling better, but I need to be careful not to overdo things since the pain has reduced. It hasn't disappeared. It's just lying under the surface, waiting to emerge the minute I overdo anything.

Mina Menon · November 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm

The bane of our lives! Pls chk out kerala ayurveda.. its worked miracles for many

totschooltotallyawesome · November 7, 2014 at 4:50 am

First of all, glad to see you back! You are better, that is a relief.
When I was working (IT, of course); this was a constant problem for me, long long hours in front of the computer caused a LOT of issues. I started Yoga, and well it had helped me a LOT!
I also really need to focus on all your tips, so that I also do not end up getting the pains (which I remember are brutal)

tulika singh · November 7, 2014 at 12:10 pm

It's wonderful to have you back Shailaja, but you know that already. Taking a lesson from you I've started monitoring screen time. For starters I log out of FB when I'm doing serious writing. It gets done much faster and I'm off the comp soon. Wifi and the tab means we are carrying the addiction around with us. Desktop days were just so much better. Your screen time was automatically curtailed. Now it has to be such a conscious decision.

Destination Infinity · November 7, 2014 at 1:16 pm

The embedded video is very useful, thanks for the same. One more tip will be to get a larger screen for the laptop – that reduces eyestrain considerably. Also, it's important not to stare at the monitor for more than 30 minutes at a stretch. I suggest people to do Surya Namaskar 3-4 times and a few basic stretching exercises in the morning and walk for at least 45 minutes every day.

Destination Infinity

Aparna · November 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm

iPad Shoulder? I thought I had heard all shoulder related terms after that trapezius business :P. Take care Shailaja, and stay with that timer for a while more.

Jen Brunett · November 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Wow I had never heard of iPad shoulder but it definitely makes sense. Thanks for sharing. I hope you are feeling better.

Maliny · November 9, 2014 at 3:48 am

This is such an enlightening post. I recently purchased a tablet and the cons of the same as far as health is concerned have already started disturbing me.

TriGirl · November 9, 2014 at 5:19 am

I did not know iPad shoulder was a condition, but I am not surprised! Good job at backing away from the addiction; it's a tough one to break!

Vinodini Iyer · November 9, 2014 at 11:18 am

A few years back, I had been on the verge of suffering from carpal's tunnel myself. I was advised a complete discontinuation of laptop and smartphone usage for about a month. It was a painful time, both in terms of getting my duties done at work and the excruciating physical pain I went through. I finally realized the importance of correct posture, exercise and moderation in everything I did. Have been careful ever since.
Loved the video seen here – very useful. Thanks for sharing it.

Shaivi · November 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm

V r so addicted to everything online, especially blogging that health usually takes a hit. Glad u r on the road to recovery. While I donno what to do with my blog-addiction, ur post has definitely got me thinking about my sleeping time. Thanks for sharing.

Cathy Graham · November 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Great advice for all of us, Shailaja. I'm sorry you have had such terrible pain but it's good you were able to get help and realize you were spending too much time on your devices. It's a good wakeup call for all of us to unplug once in a while for our physical and mental health. I am quite addicted to Facebook and use it for social interaction as you've described. I do love it but need to limit it and not let it consume so much of my time when I could be doing more creative stuff like writing and scrapbooking. (Notice I didn't include housework! LOL!)

Daniel Nest · November 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm

My whole life I thought “iPad Shoulder” was an awesome cybernetic implant that I could get to have two iPads installed into my shoulders that would allow me to crush my opponents, especially when the pre-installed laser upgrades for them became available…I'm somewhat disappointed.

But this is all true. We spend way too much time on our laptops and smartphones. Need to remember to keep those dangers in mind!

Thanks for sharing, and hope you're feeling better!

pixie · November 9, 2014 at 10:47 pm

I hope you feel better soon! I was online too much too, so before it got out of hand, I deactivated my facebook account for a few weeks. I feel better already! and I seem to have plenty of time for taking care of other things 🙂

Usha Menon · November 11, 2014 at 9:10 am

Hope you are better now. Take care and get well soon.

Anindya Rakshit · November 9, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Very informative post and very much needed… is a common problem and nice the way you addressed it and put down some Call to Action things which we can all follow…..

    Shailaja · November 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks Anindya! I hope nobody goes through the pain I did. It’s not worth it 🙂

arv · November 9, 2017 at 8:10 pm

I guess health comes first..everything else can take a back seat!

    Shailaja · November 9, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    True 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting.

Rajlakshmi · November 13, 2017 at 5:43 am

How easily we ignore all the signs! It’s like our brain pretends to be dumb unless someone professional tell us to back off. I didn’t get a good sleep last night because I was working late on a blogpost. I need a reality check too. Maybe start by installing all those extra apps I got on my phone.

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