We’re constantly exposed to technology, whether from TV, cell phones, video games, tablets or social media. And the pandemic certainly didn’t help in reducing screen time. In fact, according to Eyesafe Nielsen, the average screen time per person is now over 13 hours a day — a 60% increase since the start of the pandemic.
While devices and digital outlets can help us socialize and learn, they also often lead to a sedentary, inactive lifestyle, among other problems that can affect our (and our children’s) daily lives. If you’re worried that you or your loved ones are spending too much time on your devices, here are signs to look for and how you can cut back on screen time.
How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?
Digital overload is when you spend too much time on your devices and begin having trouble processing the amount of information you take in online, leading you to feel distracted, anxious, fatigued or even depressed.
While research has not quite figured out what our limit is when it comes to screen time, a study showed that after two hours online, people showed more symptoms of anxiety and depression. In severe cases, people who use their devices too much may struggle with digital addiction. Digital addiction can affect social, personal, family, educational and occupational areas of life.
Digital addiction and device overuse is not just an issue that affects adults or teenagers but also impacts children. When a child is in front of a screen, they’re not doing the healthy, skill-building activities kids need for their brains and bodies to develop at a normal pace.
Signs you may be spending too much time on your devices:
The first thing you do in the morning is check your phone
You fall asleep holding your phone
You feel anxious when your phone is not with you
You look for an outlet to charge your phone as soon as you arrive somewhere
You look at your phone while talking to someone
Plan to Cut Back on Screen Time
If you’re looking to cut back on screen time personally or as a family, the first step is to sit down and track your screen time. After a few weeks, determine goals and guidelines on when you’ll use your devices and for how long, and plan fun activities to do in place of spending time on your phone or computer.
Here are other ways to minimize digital overload:
- Create tech-free times and zones
- Prioritize off-screen activities throughout your day
- Set time limits on your screen time
- Turn off unnecessary notifications
- Use only one device at a time
If you feel that you or your loved one’s mental health has suffered throughout the pandemic due to increased screen time, we have resources that help you feel a little more at ease. Whether you need to speak to a counselor or need ideas to reduce screen time, we are here to help. Visit our mental health resources on our Coronavirus Resource Hub to help you feel whole in body, mind and spirit.