Americans reported spending almost ten hours per day, on average, or 270 hours per month of screen time; including online, mobile devices and television. This statistic is not too surprising; think about a walk through campus. Almost every student that you walk by has their head buried in their phone. Although, many individuals are failing to realize that “screen overload,” is taking a toll on their mental well-being and has negative long term effects. Including decreasing your attention span, your ability to concentrate, sleeping disorders, stress, depression, and cognitive function. Iowa State University conducted a research study with elementary school students and college students; the results showed that those who spend two or more hours of screen time were 1.5-2 times more likely to develop an attention problem. In addition to Iowa State’s research, University of Maryland held a study that came to conclusion that unhappy people watch more television. Those individuals who describe themselves to be, “very happy” spend more time reading and socializing with peers. Some of you are probably wondering how being on your mobile device can cause depression, while the other half of you may already be informed.
One of the main problems is social media. A huge culprit in the trend of excessive screen time is the time spent on various social media sites. Social media platforms are very accessible on almost every device, which leads to multitasking while watching television. So now, not only are you watching one screen but two or three. A great example of easy accessible is the new Apple watches. Say a person decides to step away from their phone for some time, but has their Apple watch on; those text messages will still be viewed just as fast as the individual having their phone on them. I can easily admit that I use Twitter and Instagram, but the issue that I have with social media is that it is a lot of fake stuff being viewed on the daily. In my opinion, in today’s era you have to be your own person and be confident of yourself if you are going to spend time on social media. You can easily find individuals comparing themselves to others, and celebrities through social media. Now you feel as if you are doing something wrong in life and bringing negativity upon yourself. Truth is, everybody has a different path in life and the worst thing that somebody can do is compare themselves to another individual and that person’s success.
We often feel the need to be, “connected.” When honestly we are not truly connected at all. After all of the computer, smartphone, Apple watch, tablet and television usage, we are slowly diminishing the quality of our social interactions and spending less time doing meaningful activities. Instead of focusing on screen time, spend more time proactively doing things that you enjoy, challenging yourself and enjoying the company of others. The first step that you can take to “disconnect” yourself is to first raise awareness within your own self. Figure out how much screen time you partake in between work and personal. Next, set a goal of how much screen time you would like to cut out of your schedule. This does not need to be stressful or difficult; do not make it hard on yourself. If you go over your time limit one day, just take some time away from the next. Instead of letting devices distract you, create distractions that will take you away from them. For example, go on a walk and leave your phone behind, or purposely go somewhere you know does not have service. Some other good ideas are having technology free zones in your home. Especially in the bedroom; it is not beneficial to use your phone at bedtime as it keeps your mind going and leads to sleeping disorders. Also, limiting screen time can be more fun if you have family members or roommates joining the challenge with you. Designate one night a week to “technology free night.” Not only does this allow you to give each other undivided attention, but you will receive much more out of the quality time that is spent together and you will be able to feel how rewarding and fulfilling it is.
Here are some good reads to substitute for your screen time.
- 52 Small Changes for the Mind
- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
- The Secret
- The $100 Start Up
- Self-Made-Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way
- 48 Laws of Power
- Words that Matter
Technology has its benefits, but remember to be more than just physcially present as much as possible.