If you add up how much time the average American spends looking at a screen per year, it comes to 49 days. That's 1,176 hours!
This statistic is not intended to hurl you into an existential crisis (though hurl you it might), but rather to alert you to the fact that we interact with screens way more than we think — so we should be aware of how they impact our health and what we can do to practice screen time in the safest way. Like self-care, but make it techie.
Enter: dark mode, an interface that uses a dark colour scheme instead of light and can help reduce eye fatigue, glare, and blue light. These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find an app or device that doesn't offer it.
"With people spending most of their waking hours on screens, constant exposure to blue light is taking a toll on eyes and health," says Justin Barrett, CEO Healthe, a company that creates eye safe technology. "The high-energy blue light emitted by our screens has been linked to several visual symptoms categorised by the eye care community as digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome, as well as disruption of circadian rhythm (our body clock). Sleep disruption is also a serious concern, especially among children and adolescents, who are more likely to be sensitive to its consequences like persistent fatigue, poor appetite, and sleep disorders. We should be cautious about the potential long-term effects and accumulated exposure to LED-lit displays."
Barrett says using a blue light filter like ZAGG VisionGuard for phones and tablets or wearing glasses with a blue light filter covering a range up to 455nm can protect against the effects of blue light. But another easy way to limit blue light exposure is to enable on dark mode on your devices. Ahead, here's how to do it. (Also, it might save battery life!)
iPhone, iPad & Mac
For Mac, you can only opt into dark mode if you have macOS Mojave. Within System Preferences, go to General and then change Appearance to dark.
For iPhone and iPad, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Smart Invert. This will reverse the colours of your device's display except for images, media, and some apps that use dark colour schemes.
Go to Quick Settings and activate Dark theme. You can also go to Settings > Battery and switch on Battery Saver, which conserves your battery by switching to dark mode for apps like YouTube and News.
And last week, Google rolled out dark mode for Google Calendar on Android, which you can turn on by going to Settings > General > Theme.
On Twitter, it's as easy as clicking on your profile logo at the top of your screen and switching on Dark Mode, which is available on mobile and desktop. Users can now choose between three different themes: Light, Dim, and Lights Out. You can also opt to use Automatic Dark Mode on iOS, which allows you to automatically switch to Dim or Lights Out mode each night and then switch back every morning.
Simply click on your profile icon, turn on Dark Mode, and the whole display turns black. While Facebook's general website and app don't have dark theme options, you can download a Chrome extension for this.
On both mobile and desktop, you can click on your profile icon and scroll down until you see Dark theme. Switch it on, and voila! Perfect for watching videos in the dark.
There are also apps like f.lux , which adapts your computer's display to the time of day — that means no more getting blinded by the bright light of your computer at midnight.