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Is Google Chromecast Good for Your Health?

chromecast
Measuring less than 3 inches long and weighing less than a pack of chewing gum, Google Chromecast is a small device with big media capacity: plug it into your high definition television, and Chromecast makes it possible to stream YouTube, Netflix and other video programs straight onto the big screen. That’s right – no more rumbling with extension wires and color-coded AV outlets. With Chromecast, you can seamlessly integrate a television to play whatever’s available on your computer, smartphone or tablet.

At US$35, Chromecast is certainly good for your pocketbook. But is it good for your health?

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First, let’s talk about the pros.

The biggest health benefit of Chromecast is that it reduces the time you spend staring at a computer screen. Many people experience painful eye strain after a day in front of the computer, or even a couple of hours. That tired-eyed sensation even has a name – computer vision syndrome. A 2011 study from the SUNY College of Optometry in New York found that computer vision syndrome can cause pain, including headaches and dry eyes, and eyesight problems such as blurred vision or temporary shortsightedness.

A television, unlike a laptop, is positioned further away from the viewer; accounting for less of the eyes’ primary gaze and therefore leading to a great deal less visual discomfort. Chromecast, therefore, is beneficial to health in that it provides the opportunity to enjoy entertainment without needing to stare at a computer screen.

Another potential health advantage of Chromecast is that the device encourages social video viewing, which in turn may improve psychological well-being. If you’ve just downloaded the latest episode of Game of Thrones, you might like to call up a few friends to watch it all together – but the idea of everyone crowding around a small laptop screen with low-quality speakers  isn’t appealing, so you decide to plug in the headphones and watch it alone.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a show by yourself, but Chromecast, it seems, will provide an easier way to watch TV and movies with a crowd. Having the ability to stream a video directly through the television might encourage more viewing parties; and as we know, social interaction (even if it’s just to sit around and watch Mean Girls for the umpteenth time) is good for health. Enjoying entertainment in a group means more laughter and more social connection, both of which have been proven to boost psychological health and reduce the chances of developing depression, anxiety and other mental issues.

However, there are some definite health risks that may accompany a purchase of Chromecast. Like any new electronic device, Chromecast will encourage the buyer to spend more time indoors – you’ll want to fiddle around with your new toy, and once you’ve figured out its mechanics, a good amount of hours will surely be spent sitting in front of the television. More time inside means less exercise, but also less exposure to sunlight. Sunlight provides the human body with an important source of vitamin D; when we don’t get enough vitamin D, problems in immunity and bone density can occur. So, unless the television is mounted above the garden, Chromecast won’t do any favors for our body’s vitamin D intake.

And then, let’s get back to that exercise thing. If global obesity statistics are anything to judge by, many of us are spending too many sedentary hours as is. Adding Chromecast into the mix of sit-on-the-sofa options could certainly lead to forgoing a game of ultimate Frisbee in favor of screening an entire season of Breaking Bad in one afternoon. Staying active is key for preventing chronic problems such as diabetes and heart disease, and daily exercise can aid weight loss, promote muscle growth, and even improve immune function. Chromecast certainly seems useful, but it’s doubtful the gadget can offer health benefits like that.

Clearly, Chromecast presents both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to health. So what’s to be done? If you’re a health conscious consumer intent on owning a Chromecast, there are plenty of ways to mitigate the risks, and to use your new purchase to better your body and mind.

Start your Chromecast experience on a healthy note by utilizing YouTube on the big screen to learn something new. A huge variety of instructional videos are available – you could pick up a new sport such as juggle or spinning poi; try your hand at knitting or quilting; or practice dance steps that will be sure to impress the next time you’re feeling Saturday night fever. YouTube is also great for helping to develop a new fitness routine, and with Chromecast, it’s easy to watch instructional videos while working out alongside your online teacher. Search for yoga or pilates videos, or go retro and see if you can keep up with the fierce fitness of 80s guru Richard Simmons.

To improve your mental as well as physical health, utilize Chromecast to explore educational documentaries; many of which are available for free online, and can therefore be streamed straight onto your TV. Check out Documentary Heaven for all the real life tales you could possibly want, and invite some friends over to share in your learning experience. Your mind will thank you for the enriching education, and socializing while enjoying entertainment is a great way to build connections and give your emotional health a boost.

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