Screen reading causes nausea, eyestrain, more
Yes, reading that blog post does make your butt look bigger. But mushy thighs are just one of the symptoms of screen reading.
In fact, the side effects of reading on the screen are starting to sound a lot like the insert in my asthma medication. Every time you write a blog post, webpage, news release or social media status update, you are subjecting your readers to:
1. Insomnia. People who read on their iPads before bedtime take longer to fall asleep, enjoy less REM sleep and suffer body clock confusion, according to a 2015 study by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
One of my goals in life is to never write anything that makes my readers feel as if they’ve just stumbled off of a flight from Boston to Bhutan.
2. Eye strain. People who spend hours staring at a screen suffer chemical changes in their tears similar to folks with dry eye, according to a 2014 Japanese Dry Eye Society study. Symptoms include irritation, burning and blurred vision.
Is your web presence a site for sore eyes?
3. Screen-sightedness. The number of people with advancing myopia — that’s shortsightedness to the non-optometrists among us — has increased by 35% since the launch of smartphones in 1997, said David Allamby, founder of Focus Clinics, in a 2013 analysis.
Turns out our eyes weren’t made to read emails from iPhones.
4. Backache. Americans are experiencing more back, neck and shoulder pain because of their handheld devices, according to a 2007 study by the American Chiropractic Association.
Which means that reading your Facebook page on an iPhone is literally a pain in the neck.
5. Serious illness. Prolonged sitting shortens the average person’s life span by two years, according to a 2010 study by researchers at the American Cancer Society. Sitting for most of the day can also lead to mushy thighs, obesity, heart disease and colon cancer.
Let’s just pray that journalists are standing up while reading your release.
Not what we mean by ‘killer copy’
In this environment — where reading your message is literally detrimental to your readers’ health — how can you get the word out online?
Make it easy on the reader by writing webpages, blog posts, email messages and social media status updates that:
- Get to the point faster: By the time they read your headline and deck, they should get your key message.
- Chunk it up: Break your message into more, shorter webpages to help readers find, read and better understand information online.
- Write tight: Reading on the screen is onerous. Write copy that lets readers get what they need and move on.
- Make it scannable: Help readers get your key messages without reading pesky paragraphs by lifting your ideas off the screen with display copy.
- Cut the fluff: Fluff takes space. Space takes time. Drop the adjectives, adverbs, hyperbole and other blah-blah.
Your online readers are sick and tired. Make it as easy as possible for them to get your message without undo strain.