Defining dark mode vs. light mode
Distinguishing dark mode vs. light mode is all about contrast—specifically, the contrast between the text you see on your screens and the background.
Light mode is when you see dark text on a light background.
Dark mode is when you see light text on a dark background.
The (historical) background
Apple introduced dark mode on its interface with the iOS 13 update in September 2019. Then, in May 2020, Google announced the rollout of dark mode for its app on Android and IOS.
Though these time stamps make it seem like dark mode craze is relatively recent, the concept actually dates back much further. Some of the first home computers and word processors displayed green text on black screens. Word processors eventually switched to dark text on light backgrounds to mimic the look of ink on paper.
The supposed hook to using dark mode on our devices involves combating the increased amount of screen time we as a society have realized. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain, headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and other not-so-good side effects.
The pros of dark mode
According to Android Authority, 81.9 percent of people they surveyed said they use dark mode on their phones “as much as (they) can.” That’s a pretty solid stat.
One of the advantages of using dark mode on your devices is that it reduces blue light exposure. Blue light is light with blue wavelengths, which promotes alertness. This can be good during the day, but blue light conversely can inhibit the body’s production of melatonin, impeding the ability to sleep at night.
Another pro has to do with your device itself rather than your body (though lessened stress from not having to charge your phone as often could be considered a physical plus). Put simply, using dark mode on your devices uses less of their battery.
The cons of dark mode
Now let’s touch on the dark side of dark mode. It is generally believed that dark mode is better for our eyes. But is it true?
Many medical experts say no. That’s because when we look at white text on a dark background, our pupils have to dilate to take in more light (since there is less light available in front of us). This widening of the pupils causes more effort for our eyes, meaning they are actually more strained.
Conversely, when viewing dark text on a light background, our pupils remain narrow. They do not need to widen to absorb more light (since the light background provides plenty of it).
Some people have also reported that after using dark mode for prolonged periods of time, their eyes have become more sensitive to bright screens or brightness in general as a result.
It’s all relative
Deciding whether to love light mode or be dedicated to dark mode? Keep in mind that the “right” choice depends on the individual. Individuals with certain eye conditions may fare better with one or the other (ask your eye doc). The ambient light in the environment where you are using a screen and time of day in which you are using it can also be a factor. And then there’s just good old personal preference.
There’s not yet a significant amount of research showing that using dark mode on your devices is better for your eyes. In fact, eye discomfort due to prolonged screen use is thought to be cause more by a lack of blinking (whether one is using light mode or dark).
If you’re deciding whether to live your digital life on the dark side or bask in the light, weigh the pros and cons of each and factor in your personal comfort level when making your decision. With a lack of long-term research, there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution. Just remember to take screen breaks!
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