Screen Time Diet: Less Is More

Words: Frank MORAES

It seems like we’re attached to our screens more and more. The reason for increased screen time include social media feeds demanding our attention, notifications always buzzing on our phones, and the sheer volume of available content.

You may binge-watch the latest episodes of The Patient streaming on Hulu + Live TV, play Call of Duty, catch up on Reels from your favourite Instagram creators, or chat with friends on WhatsApp. All of this, while being addictive and entertaining, unknowingly takes up a large chunk of your day — also, month, year and life overall.

Excess screen time isn’t that good for you, but reducing its ‘hold’ on you has health benefits.

Here’s why —

Spending too much time on a screen can have a number of undesirable effects. Eye strain is a significant problem that often contributes to fatigue.

The more time you spend using your devices, the harder you will find it to focus on essential tasks, online and offline. Spending too much time on the screen can also disrupt your sleep schedule. You may find it harder to go to and stay asleep.

Benefit 1: Be More Of A Part Of The Community

Giving up some of your screen time is a good way to stay more connected to the community.

The more you feel like you belong, the less stressful life will be. Feeling like you are not alone will help you manage difficult times more efficiently.

You may be able to take advantage of more events. Getting involved with a spiritual group, getting physically active, or volunteering, are examples of great alternatives to screen time.

Having your family eat together can be suitable for everyone’s overall health. If you turn off your devices during family, or meal, times, everyone will be more mentally present. When kids eat together with the family, they may also do better in school.

Benefit 2: Have More Time For Fun & Leisure

Taking time to explore and learn more about the world is important for all ages. Trying out new activities instead of your usual screen time can be a good way to accomplish this goal. Going on nature trails, bike rides or hikes, visiting parks, and visiting museums are all perfect ways to exploring the world.

You might discover a whole new appreciation for things that you encounter face-to-face. Crafting, reading, or using colouring books, designed for all ages, help you put your imagination to use. The less time you spend on your screen, the more room you have for creativity.

Benefit 3: Enjoy Better Physical Health

Many people don’t realise how much physical activity time they are sacrificing for screen time. Your health is likely to suffer over all the more time you spend watching a screen.

If you eat meals, or snacks, while watching TV, for example, you’re more likely to eat larger portions without thinking and, in turn, gain weight. You’ll be more likely to notice your body’s urges about being full if you’re not distracted.

The more time children spend on screens, the greater difficulty they have falling asleep. Kids who are sleep-deprived from screen time are more tired and more likely to snack excessively.

Type-2 diabetes and heart disease are closely related to excess weight. Even children are at an increased risk for diabetes because of sedentary lifestyles that include too much screen time.

Benefit 4: Experience Improved Mood

Spending time on an enjoyable activity outside can improve your mood. Your overall well-being will improve, and you’ll feel more accomplished. Getting away from screens and savouring social connections can reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.

Increased screen time is known to heighten behavioral problems in children. There is also a loss of focus because of divided attention. If kids watch too much violent content, including news-related programming, they are more likely to deal with anxiety issues.

Benefit 5: Have More Meaningful Connections

The more connected people are to each other, the more they feel as though they are cared for. Despite being helpful for staying in touch, devices also encourage behaviour that diminishes relationships.

Using a device can make others, especially children, feel as though they must compete for attention. When you aren’t distracted by your device, you can give more of yourself to others.

Backing down from using devices can help improve your social skills. Small steps like not having the TV on for background noise can help your focus during interactions with others. Children who spend less time using devices understand non-verbal cues better.

Ways To Reduce Screen Time

  • Screen time tracking apps. You can use apps such as SPACE which are designed to help you track and control your screen time. These apps can help you set a daily time limit and even send reminders when you are exceeding your limit
  • Do Not Disturb [DND] mode. This mode allows you to silence notifications, or temporarily, cease ringing and vibrations on your phone. Using DND mode can help you ‘up’ your focus on the task at hand instead of focusing just too much on social media, or breaking news updates.
  • Discipline. A little bit of self-discipline can go a long way in cutting back on your screen time. For example, consider allocating yourself a certain amount of time to spend on social media, games, or streaming. You might also opt to put your online engagement aside after a specific time at night, or trade time on leisure activities online for outdoor undertakings.
FRANK MORAES is a freelance writer specialising in technology, business, and film/television. He combines them all as an editor at the cord-cutter website, HotDog.com.

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