January 07, 2019
10 Ways Screen Time Impacts Your Health and What You Can Do About It
Do you spend too much time looking at screens? Screens play an increasingly large part of our lives – phones, tablets, televisions, computers, video games all constitute screen time. If you’re not exactly sure how much time you’re logging, you can view your usage on iPhone or iPad. In settings, “Screen Time” allows you to access real-time reports about how much time you spend on your iPhone or iPad. If this number is a bit shocking, you can set limits to restrict usage to a reasonable amount of time. According to eMarketer, “US adults will spend an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018, an annual increase of over 11 minutes. By 2019, mobile will surpass TV as the medium attracting the most minutes in the US.” Think of what you could actually do with that extra time! Not only is scrolling your phone time consuming, it takes a toll on your overall health as well. Are you ready to make a commitment to decrease your screen time in 2019?
Excess screen time has been linked to:
Poor postureYou’re constantly tilting your head down, creating pressure on your head, neck, and spine, which can lead to a condition known as “text neck”. It can also affect your shoulders, forearms and wrists.
Sore eyes and vision impairmentStaring at a screen for long periods of time can result in dry eyes, blurred or strained vision, and headaches.
Trouble sleepingThe blue light from electronic devices can interfere with your body’s circadian rhythms and interrupt your normal sleep pattern. The blue light can also suppress the body’s production of melatonin and further interrupt sleep.
Unnecessary anxietyThe constant stream of media can significantly reduce time spent taking a break and resting your brain, especially in children and teenagers. They have less time to think about and process the information they’re receiving. It can also cause a comparison trap and leave them feeling as if they are lacking in some way.
Increased depressionA study was done on the association between screen time and depression among US adults. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) results showed that moderate or severe depression level was associated with higher time spent on TV watching and use of computer.
A more sedentary lifestyleTime spent in front of the screen means more sitting and less activity. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Damaging our brainsPsychology Today found that brain atrophy occurs with 3+ hours a day of screen time. “Areas affected included the important frontal lobe, which governs executive functions, such as planning, planning, prioritizing, organizing, and impulse control (“getting stuff done”).” Other areas affected also included the area of the brain that regulates empathy and compassion for others.
Decreasing real connections with peopleText messages are efficient and social media provides a glimpse at what our friends and family are up to, but they don’t allow for deep, meaningful connections.
Being constantly distractedToo much screen time shortens your attention span, making it hard to focus on the task at hand. This can interfere with work, social, and family life as well as damage relationships. According to survey conducted in 2015 by AVG Technologies, one third of children reported feeling unimportant when their parents looked at their smartphones during meals or time playing together.
Weight gainIn addition to being sedentary and getting less exercise, you may tend to make poor drink and food choices. Scrolling or watching tv while eating is distracting, and you may eat more than you intended without even realizing.
What you can do about your screen time and how to limit it:
- Do NOT look at your phone right when you wake up. Do important, productive tasks that make you feel accomplished, THEN you can take a little time to scroll your phone.
- Make a cell phone box (or have your child decorate a shoe box) and place your phone in it each evening to remind you not to mindlessly pick up your phone. Focus on your family or "me time" and look at your phone once everyone else has gone to bed or after dinner.
- Set a timer on your phone and get your "fix" for 15-minute increments. When the timer beeps, put it away for the next few hours. Determine how much time you actually want to spend on social media and track that time as well.
- Adopt a hobby to combat boredom – much time spent on social media is often a way to alleviate boredom. Reading a book, painting, knitting, cooking or even going for a walk can combat boredom and lessen screen time.
- Cut down on internet socializing when possible. Schedule a time to visit a friend or to call and talk to a family member. Rather than using a cell phone use a voice assistant such as Alexa, Google home, or Siri to make your calls and set up your appointments.
- Instead of your iCal or Google calendar, try using a journal for appointments or to-do lists. A simple bullet journal is a great way for remembering what needs to get done.
- Don’t watch tv or movies in bed. Chances are you will get sucked into watching more episodes of a favorite show if you are cozy in bed.
- Get a library card and read an actual book. In addition to being FREE, borrowing from the library is a way to reduce clutter and work your brain.
- Keep mealtimes screen free for everyone at the table.
- Track your weight and your health. Screen time means stationary time, so keeping tabs on your health is important. In addition to weight, our Bluetooth Precision Smart Scale calculates BMI, Cal-Max™, body fat, body water, muscle mass, and bone mass. This provides a complete picture of your overall well-being. The scale effortlessly transfers your stats to the EatSmart Performance app where your data is stored, graphed and easy to view.