Try and guess how many times you pick up your smartphone in just one day. Research shows that, on average, we pick up our phones a whopping 96 times a day. That’s at least once every 10 minutes!
Maybe we look at our phones to check text messages, scroll through social media, or watch funny YouTube videos. Regardless of why we check our phones, there’s no denying that some people get a little hooked. Think about the last time you were out in public — how many people were looking down at their phone or holding it in their hand?
Technology has enabled us to stay in contact with our closest friends and family, but are there drawbacks to spending too much time looking at screens? Digital devices bring us closer to the people we love. Still, there’s reason to believe that it can lead to more isolation and feelings of loneliness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has guidance for screen time when it comes to children. But what about adults? How much screen time is too much? Although there’s no specific amount of time that is considered too much screen time, there’s evidence that suggests excessive screen time can negatively affect our well-being.
Let’s explore more details about screen time, the effects of screen time on the brain, and how you can effectively reduce your screen time.
Negative Effects of Screen Time
Although phones and tablets have been around for quite some time, the concept of screen time is still relatively new. Researchers continue to conduct studies to learn more about the effects screens have on our brains.
Let’s explore some of the adverse effects of too much screen time:
- Increased risk of obesity
- Risk of anxiety and depression
- Eye strain or damage to the eyes
- Trouble falling and staying asleep
- Impaired social interaction skills
- Lower self-esteem
These are only a few of the negative effects of excessive screen time, but they’re enough to cause worry in some people. Parents especially need to understand how technology could be negatively impacting their children’s learning development and behavior.
How to Reduce Screen Time
If you find yourself spending too much time scrolling through your various apps, these tips may help you spend more time on the important things and less time staring at your screen.
1. Utilize your phone’s screen time application.
Many smartphones come preloaded with a screen time app that monitors which apps you spend the most time using and can show you how often you’re on your phone. If not, there are plenty of options available for iOS and Android users on the Apple and Google Play stores.
Start by monitoring your usage. You can then set reminders to put your phone down and take a break from the screen through those apps.
2. Turn off push notifications.
One of the main reasons we get drawn into using our phones is the push notifications we get every few minutes. Turn off all or some of your push notifications, and you’ll notice that you’ll spend less time on your phone.
3. Use a smartwatch instead.
If you think you need your phone to check the time or receive calls or messages, try using a smartwatch instead. Adding another device to your lineup will actually help you reduce your overall screen time. And who spends time scrolling through social media on their smartwatch?
4. Switch to grayscale settings.
We subconsciously love the colors on our phones, and it can keep us going back to check our notifications and play around with our apps. Try switching your phone to grayscale. There’s evidence to suggest that it helps reduce screen time.
5. Delete distracting apps from your phone.
When you take a look at your screen time settings, you should see which apps make up the most screen time. Be sure to delete any apps you feel are taking up too much of your time, and then delete them. It may be challenging at first, but deleting these apps will free up more time in the future.
6. Set rules and stick to them.
Being self-disciplined is essential if you’re trying to decrease your screen time. If you decide no phones at dinner, set the rule and stick to it. Try encouraging yourself, as well as your friends and family, to stay off your phones so you can spend more time creating memories and enjoying quality time with the people you love.
While these suggestions are certainly helpful, it may take some time for these new habits to stick. Remember that reducing screen time will help you connect with reality and spend more time on the things that matter.
Take a Break From the Screens
Because there are negative consequences to excessive screen time, it’s crucial that you set some rules around screen time and follow them. You’ll notice how much you’re missing when you put your phone down and connect with nature, your friends and family, and the world around you.
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