· By Dr. Kaushal M. Kulkarni, M.D.
Five Easy Ways to Reduce Screen Time
Technology is great. It has boosted productivity by automating repetitive tasks and given humankind access to an endless amount of information about anything and everything. And it has enhanced how we communicate and collaborate with others.
But there is a potentially darker side to technology. Indeed, in 2016, researchers found that on average we spend more than 10 hours a day in front of a screen. And, for example, the blue light emitted from screens can have potentially harmful effects on our health. It can disrupt our sleep-wake cycle leading to decreased productivity and well-being.
We are literally glued to our computers, TV, and smartphones. In fact, we pick up our mobiles over 58 times per day and with the recent Covid-19 pandemic this has only risen.
Obviously, this is a problem. Too much screen time causes vision problems, impacts our sleep, and strong-arms us into a more sedentary lifestyle. This elevates anxiety, stress, and depression. Meanwhile, since we are always available, our work rates are exploding, leaving us with little downtime.
How to Limit Screen Time for Yourself
There are ten simple things that you can adopt to reduce your screen time. Most of them are easy, convenient, and will not disrupt your daily life too much. Besides, each has secondary benefits over and above screen time usages which can be harmful in many cases.
1. Track Screen Time
I guess you think that you don't have a problem with your smartphone or computer. But have you ever checked? Rather than maintaining blissful ignorance, make an effort to track how much time you actually spend every day staring at that delicious blue light.
One great application is RescueTime that monitors the sites and apps you frequently visit and for home long. TimeCamp, Hubstaff, and Toggle are other options that you could consider.
2. Make the Bedroom a No-Go-Zone for Tech
According to Alex Hern, the last thing we see at night is our phone. However, it is the first thing we see in the morning, too. Often before we have managed to open our eyes. What this means is that every day we are exposed to harmful blue light that can impact the quality of our sleep and damage our eyes. The solution? Charge your phone in another room and buy an alarm clock.
3. Create Tech-Free Zones
Intimately related to the above step, you can designate places in your house and surrounding environment as tech-free zones. The best location to implement such a ban is the dining room. Looking at your phone while eating dinner not only distracts you from enjoying what you are eating but spending time with your friends and family. Use this time more wisely.
4. Leave Your Phone Behind
During the evening and weekends, ditch your phone. It is simple. If you go on a hike, turn the phone on silent and leave it in the car. If you decide to read a book, place the phone somewhere else, make sure it is nowhere to be found. Something will surprise you: the world still spins if you leave it behind.
5. Schedule More Face-to-Face Meetings
Yes, Covid has forced us to schedule more Zoom and video calls. But now that things are opening up, why not try setting up a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting. Or if this is not possible, what about a phone call? The benefits of this are outstanding.
In-person meetings provide a sense of intimacy, connection, and empathy that is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate with a video call. Indeed, according to Paul Axtell at the Washington Post, “it is much easier to ask for attentive listening and presence during a face-to-face meeting, which creates the psychological safety that people need to sense in order to engage and participate fully. Watch this TEDx talk on how to reduce screen time and improve your life.
Best Way to Limit Screen Time
Yet which one is the best I hear you ask? The truth is we often lack the opportunity to adopt all of these strategies. Only a few can be selected. If this applies to you, here is the best way to limit screen time: pick up a new hobby.
Reading a novel, engaging in physical activity, or picking up a tech-free hobby is a fantastic way to reduce screen time and make the most of your downtime. When you are bored, don't just grab the laptop, get out there and try something new. You will learn new things!
Benefits of Reducing Screen Time
There are many wellness benefits to cutting down on screen time. Here are three:
When you are attending to the screen, you are ignoring something else. Indeed, devices often cut into your exercise time and can prevent you from maintaining healthy habits. Physical activity is good for your health.
Engaging with others is crucial for our mental health. Children and adults alike look to others for a sense of belonging. We all need to feel cared for and noticed. Devices can damage these relationships and lead us to become depressed, anxious, and ill at ease.
By setting down your devices, children may feel their parents are more emotionally available and help strengthen the family bond. Indeed, one study found that a group of children who went without electronic devices for five days were better at recognizing facial emotions and reading non-verbal cues, than in children who lived life as usual.
Putting down your phone and going outside is a mood booster. Period. It can make you feel more accomplished and improve your well-being. This is because depression and anxiety, engendered by excessive technology usage, can cause a person to withdraw and isolate themselves. Social activity helps you connect with others.
Still not convinced? Listen to these additional benefits of limiting screen time.
How to Limit Screen Time for Your Children
Worried about your child’s screen time use? The steps for limiting your child's screen time are similar to those for adults. However, it is important that parents are good role models. If your child only ever sees you staring at a screen, how do you expect them to behave?
Also important is defining what too much screen time is for your kids. To do so, determine how much daily or weekly screen time you are comfortable with - one hour per day is a good start. Alert your children to this limit and explain why you are enforcing it. This way, they can make decisions for themselves.
Here are more tips on how to limit screen time for your precious children.
Vitamins that Can Help Combat the Harmful Effects of Excessive Screen Time
We recognize that limiting screen time is not always possible. Life and what we want to do are often mutually exclusive. Fortunately, there is a range of vitamins and supplements developed by eyetamins that minimize the effects of screen usage on our eyes.
Blue Blocker filters blue light, helps eye strain, promotes eyesight and supports sleep. It is packed full of sustainably harvested super nutrients that are proven to support your eyes when using computers.
Dry Eye Comfort is a unique formulation loaded with antioxidants and nutrients to help address that annoying problem of eye dryness. It is filled with vegan omega 3, 6,7 and 9 to help moisturize and soothe. For those who suffer from dry eye and other conditions associated with smartphone use, this is a clinically proven solution.
People Also Ask
1. How do I Reduce Screen Time Drastically?
Of course, each individual should find their own strategy. But bear in mind that doing anything drastically can be extremely difficult. To avoid failure (and the feelings of frustration that accompany it), try a gradual approach.
2. How do I Limit my Screen Time?
By following the above advice it is possible to limit screen time. But this list is by no means exhaustive. Experiment and see what works best for you! And P.S. if you do find a good technique, share it with others.
3. Is Four Hours of Screen Time Good?
What is a healthy amount of screen time for adults? Experts say adults should limit screen time outside of work to less than two hours per day. Any time beyond that which you would typically spend on screens should instead be dedicated to socializing, getting outdoors and reading.
4. Can my Child Turn Off Screen Time on their iPhone?
In principle, yes. Although Apple has put in a number of parental controls that limit screen time, children can turn off Apple Screen Time by heading into the settings app, scrolling to the bottom of the menu and selecting ‘Turn Off Screen Time’.
Rather than restricting their use, a better policy is to encourage your child to engage in outdoor activities and spend time with their friends. Try to educate your child to realize the harmful effects of prolonged screen time. Watch this explanatory video on how to implement parental controls.
5. What Can Adults Do Instead of Screen Time?
Spend more time with your friends and family, take up new hobbies, explore your surrounding area and countryside, and play board games. Get out there!
Screen time can be reduced with these five easy steps. If followed correctly, they will allow you to rid yourself of that harmful relationship with technology and reclaim your life. In the meantime, be sure to exercise, enjoy a balanced diet and take health-boosting vitamins from eyetamins!