Reducing Screen Time

We all are guilting of sitting in front of a screen more than we should. If you think about the times in the day you are not looking at your phone, computer, television or projector screen it actually makes you wonder what you look at when you aren’t looking at one of those things. At the beginning of the year I wanted one of my new year’s resolutions to decrease my screen time throughout the day. Ironically, I am writing this on a screen however that is besides the fact. Although it may not seem like screen-time has major impacts on you, it has other risk factors that are worth cutting out technology a little more. For example, too much screen time can make it hard to sleep at night, increase the risk for attention problems, anxiety and depression and increase the risk for obesity. Decreasing screen-time is easier said than done. With screens constantly surrounding us in school, work and social life, it’s truly very difficult to stay off the screen while also engaging in the lives many of us live. However, if you are considering reducing screen-time, it doesn’t have to be a dramatic change. Also, you may find that slowly cutting back on technology is easier than you would think. Here are a few tips to avoid the glazed over, permanently glued-to-the screen eyes… 

 

Set screen time restrictions on your iPhone

If you have an iPhone, this is an easy way to track the amount of time you spend on your phone a day as well as setting restrictions past a certain time limit. To do this, go into your “Settings” and scroll down to “Screen Time”. Click on the timer icon and go into “App Limits.” From here you can set limits on certain categories such as productivity, social networking, reading and reference, games, entertainment, creativity, education, health and fitness, etc. Your phone will notify you once you get close to your limit and once you have reached that limit it will lock those apps (unless you ignore the restriction for that day). You can set other useful limits such as “Downtime” and “Always Allowed.” This is a great way to keep yourself accountable and be aware of how much time you are truly on your phone. 

 

Call or meet someone instead of text 

Texting is one of the easiest ways to communicate. It takes minimal effort, from any location and happens instantaneously. Obviously texting is a very useful tool considering it can carry important messages at any time and place however, if you look back at your texts, how many people do you text that you could have easily called or met in person? Next time you think about shooting a text to your friend, sibling, parent, boyfriend, relative… maybe dial their number and call them. Meeting in person is trickier since not everyone you talk to can meet at a time or place that is both convenient for you but if it’s possible, why not try? Ask someone to go to coffee, do homework, go to dinner, go shopping, go on an adventure or simply hang out at someone’s house or apartment. I have found that talking with people directly is so much more meaningful than texting because texting can get misinterpreted very easily or come off not as you want it to. Let’s bring back OG hang outs and dates am I right?

 

Take handwritten notes in class

This is a great tip to reduce screen time while in class. Although many times larger lecture classes include PowerPoints or other presentations on a projector screen, taking notes is an easy way to eliminate the double screen time and stay off of your computer or tablet. Also, studies have shown that taking handwritten notes increases your level of retention since your brain selects important words to write down rather than taking verbatim notes. In addition, you are more likely to be tempted to switch over to a social media or internet website if you are using your computer or tablet. Let’s bring back the OG note taking! 

 

Get outside or get active 

With the constant flow of communication, networking and news we receive in a day, it can be very overwhelming and anxiety inducing. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but setting time in your day to get active, has so many positive benefits. When you get your flood flowing, this releases natural endorphins which help relieve stress and can boost your overall mood. Also exercising is great for heart health, boosting your metabolism and burning calories and fat. If you like to work out on your own, try to avoid looking at your phone in between sets or bring a book or notes to look at on a machine. If you like group workouts, maybe try ones that don’t involve technology or leaderboards. You may find that competing against yourself is more rewarding than comparing yourself to others. Lastly, simply going outside, taking in the fresh air and observing your surroundings is a great way to relax and appreciate everything you have. No matter if it’s a long walk or grueling hike, there is always something to look at outside. 

 

Access information in other ways than the internet 

Instead of emailing your professor, go to their office hours. Instead of texting a friend, ask a peer in class. Instead of Googling it, look it up in a book. Instead of reading online reviews, ask an experienced person. We have so many resources around us that we are either unaware of or are afraid to ask about. We immediately resort to our phones as online encyclopedias rather than asking someone else who may give you better feedback or advice. Use the people around you because you can’t always trust what’s on the internet.