Health

4 Benefits and Tips On Reducing Your Screen Time

toddler using laptop
Technology is our present and future. Through one handheld device we hold in the palm of our hands, we are able to automate and access services that permeate every aspect of our lives – our social networks, finances, work, entertainment and media: it’s readily available and accessible digitally.

With great convenience comes significant caveats and pose challenges for any one that uses technology. Continue reading to learn about the benefits of limiting your screen time and ways that you can curb your digital consumption.

Generation Alpha Challenges

In an article by Dan Schawbel, he predicted that Generation Alpha (those born after 2011 and today) will be the most tech savvy of all generations and will not know a world without social networking. They will face psychological challenges due to less human contact than previous generations which can hurt essential soft skill development such as communicating in person which is crucial in our personal and professional lives.
Alpha’s will be introduced to mobile phones before becoming teenagers and will take most of the technology we use today for granted… They will primarily shop online and have less human contact than previous generations. Based on research I did a few years ago, students say that technology has hurt their soft skills like in-person social interaction. Gen Alpha will be the most connected generation yet spend much less time talking to their peers in person. There will be clear psychological challenges with this generation as they will feel more alone, despite being so connected. ” – Dan Schawbel, 2014

Distractions and r/NoSurf Philosophy

As with anything, moderation is important. With so many distractions, it can be all too easy spending our valuable time consuming and engaging with media that may not be beneficial to us and have adverse side effects towards our mental health.

As a supporter of the r/nosurf philosophy, I agree with the notion that our digital and internet usage should be mindful and purposeful, in a way that our devices add value to our lives and serves us, rather than the other way around.

Benefits Of Reducing Screen Time

Reducing screen time is a challenge in itself but is certainly achievable through cultivating mindfulness and self-discipline, and for parents, monitoring your children’s digital media habits.

A 2004 study the Iowa State University which analyzed the media habits of more than 1,300 school children, found that reducing and finding a healthy balance between screen time, had positive impact on a child’s sleep quality, academic performance and prosocial behaviours. (1) Learn more about these benefits below.

Benefit #1: Better Quality Of Sleep

Studies have shown the impact of blue light wavelengths emitted from device screens results in the suppression and blocking of melatonin production. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone and plays an important role in regulating sleep and wakefulness. (2) Continuously being exposed to blue light, especially before bed, disrupts our sleep hormones that makes it harder for our bodies to fall asleep, even though we may feel physically tired. By limiting our exposure to blue light before bedtime, we can increase our melatonin production which will help signal and accustom our bodies for sleep.

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body and can have positive benefits in regulating stress and mood. Too little and inadequate sleep increases the production of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone”, which can lead to chronic stress and impact your overall well-being.

Benefit #2: Improved Focus

A study from the Florida State University claims that receiving message notifications is as distracting as a phone call. “Whether you are alerted to an incoming phone call or text by a trendy ringtone, an alarm bell or a quiet vibration, just receiving a notification on your cell phone can cause enough of a distraction to impair your ability to focus on a given task.“ (3)

If you’re looking to increase your productivity, consider limiting or disabling push notifications on your phone. And if you commonly work in front of a computer, make sure to take regular breaks away from the screen so you can give your eyes a break and prevent physical fatigue. Even just a few minutes of standing up and stretching can do your mind and body wonders because it will drive oxygen to the brain which can help you regain focus and increase alertness.

Benefit #3: More Time

Think about all the times you’ve passed time mindlessly browsing on your phone because of boredom. Luckily, applications are available to most devices that can help you gauge your digital media usage. If you’ve got a Google Pixel, you’ll get a visual display of how many hours that you’ve spent on your phone, a circle pie chart indicating your most used apps, number of times you’ve unlocked your phone and push notifications you received.

All that time could go towards taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill. Sky’s the limit.

Benefit #4: More Presence

Living in a highly urbanized city with a robust transit system, it’s common to see everyday commuters glued to their smartphones. And even more so, toddlers in strollers, already plugged into the digital world, when they could be observing and learning about the world around them. But let’s not forget the notable other few crossing a busy street, looking at their device in hand, living life out on the edge. My point is this: we live in a distracted culture.

Be like Jeff Goldblum: observant, intriguing, charismatic but most importantly, present. In his interactions, he’s authentically there and is fully engaged when being interviewed. Being plugged away from digital devices can encourage pro social behaviours. Social interaction and being able to form connections with others is crucial for our well being which we can improve through meditation and mindfulness.

So What Can We Do To Change Our Screen Habits?

Download this free infographic to get tips on how you can monitor and decrease your screen time.

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