Remember earlier everyone would say too much television is not good for us, so we should reduce the screen time and look at us now all we do is stay glued to the screen. One way or the other we keep staring at the screen may it be the tv or the phone or our laptops.
Where are we heading ?
What are we doing to ourselves with mindless habits?
I realized this when I was on a holiday and saw everyone around me glued to their screen instead of paying attention to the real world around them. From kids to adults and even the elderly couple everyone is mindlessly scrolling.
This made me think how important it is to limit and reduce screen time and i started questioning myself as to –
Why should we reduce screen time?
So to find an answer to why I should reduce screen time I started analyzing and observing myself and people around me .
The first benefit of reduced screen time was one was able to sleep better and hence it made sense. If one sleeps better half of the health and mental problems are dealt with.
Why we should reduce screen time
We haven’t paid attention to it but looking at the screen for prolonged time has drastic health concerns .
Effect on the eyes
We often complain of dry eyes. This was a condition that was never heard of but its has become frequent these days .This is one of the side effects of looking at the screen for long periods .
Prolonged screen time causes eye strains and vision problems. This causes headaches and in turn leads to blurry vision and one finds it difficult to focus. A condition known as computer vision syndrome.
Computer vision is also known as digital eye strain.
With prolonged screen time and close up viewing nearsightedness is on increase. It has devastating effects on our eyes.
Effect on sleep
Yes you heard it right prolong screen time has drastic effects on our sleeping patterns .
Especially the use of a screen at night and before bed time .
These devices emit blue light which hampers the production of melanin and thus prevents us from feeling sleepy.
When we play online games or read news or scroll on social media our mind is constantly engaged and alert. Thus hampering our sleep cycle.
We are aware of the fact that we sleep better when we are at peace and our mind is relaxed, so it is important to reduce screen time.
As we tend to not move much while looking at the screen we tend to dismiss our body needs, one of which is mindless eating and not paying attention to food. Down the line we start eating anything and everything and skip clean eating . The downstream effect of unhealthy eating habits is, it prevents us from getting good sleep
Screen time and well being
Prolonged screen time results in migraines in adults and kids . A sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain, depression, stress level increases and people often tend to feel lonely. Everything is interconnected
Most of the time while sitting or lounging while watching the screen we tend to eat food that lacks nutrition. We are not conscious of our patterns and thus, this lack of activity and bad food choices combined with long screen time has alarming effects on our health .
Inhibits communication skills
It has been seen that as most of the time we find ourselves communicating online we lack the basics of in person communication skills. This is especially for a lot of younger generation people. Interpersonal communication is an extremely important part of one’s life. So it becomes even more important to be conscious of our patterns and thus reducing screen time.
How to reduce screen time
All of us are aware that excessive screen time is not good for our health, but as most of our work and personal lives revolve around digital space , completely cutting back on screen time is not the best option.
As it is not possible to completely escape the screen there are many conscious ways in which we can reduce screen time.
Tips to reduce screen time
Here is a list of some conscious and healthy patterns we can make to reduce screen time
- First thing is not to use any kind of screen at least two hours before bed
- No screens in the bedroom and the dining room
- Engaging into physical activities and also connecting with the nature
- If you have to use screen for work make sure to invest in a good pair of glasses
- Consciously keeping a check on your screen time and correcting yourself if you are found doing mindless scrolling.
- There are a variety of apps that help one reduce the screen time like Social fever, Digital Well being, Freedom and many more
Tips to reduce screen time for Adults
- Keeping a track of your screen time
After the pandemic as the world is coming back to normal again it is very important to keep a check on the screen time and set a screen limit. Smart phones have a screen time function that helps you to keep a tap on your screen usage on a daily and weekly basis. Taking advantage of this you can set limits and it will notify you when the screen time goes up thus, helping to reduce screen time.
- Avoid video tiredness
As adults have to spend too much time working online and attend meetings and video calls it can become a little taxing. This in turn leads to fatigue. One can take out time in between video calls to get up and move. Stretch a bit and just stroll around the house and mindfully reduce screen time.
- Setting reminders
If it is really difficult for you to disengage from the screen the take the help of the technology and set reminders to be screen free during various times of the day.
- Taking regular breaks
If you are constantly staring at the screen for work make sure to be conscious of this and pause and look away from the screen for 30 seconds on regular intervals
- Try to stretch
Using the computer constantly one has a specific posture so in order to break the posture try stretching on regular intervals. Learn some chair yoga that includes neck movement and shoulder movement while sitting on the chair. Just remember to do some sort of movement
- Paying attention to the posture
Keep a check on your posture throughout the day , this helps to keep limit the strain of long screen time
- Not eating in front of the screen
One conscious about that is easy to adopt is not to eat in front of the screen , this helps one to get a break from the screen and in turn reduces the screen time
Tips to reduce screen time in toddlers
It is extremely important to built a healthy habit in kids so that they learn to reduce screen time
- Undivided Attention:
As we know that kids learn from adults so whenever you kids want to talk to you or call you make sure you keep away your devices and just listen to them and have a one on one conversation. This will let them know they are important and the laptop or the phone is not as important
- Engaging in activities
It is important to engage your kids in activities that include feeling and touching sensations such as drawing, singing, gardening, Painting and reading.
- Plan family outings
Plan for outings that include visiting the water park, or going on treks or going to the zoo instead of a movie outing or visiting the mall.
- Setting a schedule
It is really important for one to set a schedule for your kid as to how much screen they
Need to watch. Also making sure no matter what the schedule is followed
- Making screen free zones
It is important to make screen free zones in the house. Like letting you kids know that there are no screens in the reading room or while having food and also no screens in the bedroom.
Next comes the very daunting question
How much should I reduce my screen time?
The answer to this according to a lot of experts is to limit the screen time outside of your work to 2 hours per day.
Now there are no set rules or guidelines for this, but in general one should make a conscious habit of not mindlessly staring at the screen for long hours.
Setting realistic goals and trying to stick to them will definitely help.
Make sure to include all the other activities like eating food without the screen, doing some physical activities and then the last thing should be looking at the screen for entertainment purposes.
Excessive screen time and mental health
Excessive screen time means spending 8-18 hours on the screen and not bothering about anything else. Especially during the pandemic the screen time has gone up.
This is a common phenomenon these days where people spend so much time on social media and other related platforms without even giving it a thought. Which has adverse effects on one’s body and mind.
Constantly staring at the screen hampers the melanin function which in turn hampers the sleeping pattern. Thus keeping the brain alert and awake , this signals the body to release cortisol which is a stress hormone and this in turn increases the tension in the body .
Because of this the brain’s electrical activity is always working which leads to the following
- Cognitive function of the brain decreases
- Attention span decreases
- There is a lot of Mental fog
- Decision making ability reduces
- A lot of memory problems arise
- Problem solving ability reduces
- Overall energy levels reduce
- Over the time stress and anxiety develops
- There are a lot of mood changes such as getting irritated fast and depression
It is really important to reduce the screen time as down the line it is going to have prolonged effects on us that will be irreversible. So one needs to build conscious habits and a lifestyle that helps to reduce screen time.
Do let me know if you are working towards the goal of reducing screen time and what are the steps you have taken. Also what are the roadblocks you have faced and how did you overcome them?