Screen addiction in children is a common concern for parents of the present age. Like any other responsible parent, you keep tabs on what your kids scour on the internet; you probably have blocked websites with adult or inappropriate content on their computers, and you may even have set an-hour-a-day of screen time for them. But when it comes to your own screen time, there’s no limit, is there, now?
There’s no one stopping you from watching your favourite shows on television or reading ebooks on your smartphone. But before you scold your kids for going over their screen time, ponder hard over your own habits and ask yourself if you also need a screen time limit. If you’re honest to yourself, your inner voice will probably say yes.
How is Screen Time Affecting Your Life?
There’s nothing wrong in watching your favourite shows, playing video games, or texting your friends every day. It’s completely human, but it’s the amount of time that you spend on these activities that becomes a cause for concern. You must have read enough articles on why you need to limit your child’s screen time, but today, read on to find out why you, as a parent, need to cut down your screen time as well. It is taking a toll on different aspects of your life and you probably may not have realized it. Here’s how it’s affecting you.
1. Your mental health – by taking you on the road to depression
Television shows, movies, and social media can easily help you escape or evade from real life problems, but at the same time, it can deceive your brain by taking you on a trip to a make-believe world. The inactive lifestyle that most of you’re probably leading can also make you prone to depression. As per a study, moderate to severe levels of depression were associated with the use of computers and excessive TV time. People who watch television or use a computer for more than 6 hours a day have more chances of sinking into depression than people who don’t spend much time in front of these devices.
2. Your physical health
The sedentary lifestyle that most of the people of this generation lead also puts them at the risk of several diseases. When you use your phone or computer, or watch television, you probably do it sitting on a chair or a couch – which doesn’t help your body at all. Sitting for long hours and not doing any physical activity can put you at the risk of health problems, like diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. Your posture gets affected too – you may experience pain in your neck as a result of looking down at your phone constantly.
However, it’s not too late to start exercising and make dietary changes. You can take up yoga, cardio, Zumba, playing outside with your kids, or even walking for that matter – go with the one that is comfortable for you and live actively to keep diseases at bay.
3. Your sleep
The urge to check the new messages you’ve received on Whatsapp before going to bed is tempting, and you give in without much thought. The next thing you know, it’s already an hour after midnight, and you’re staring up at the ceiling of your bedroom, waiting for sleep to engulf you. But that won’t happen, because being engrossed in your phone, especially at night, disrupts your sleep pattern.
The blue light emitted by the screens of smartphones suppresses the production of melatonin (the hormone which regulates your body’s sleep cycle), thereby messing up your sleep routine. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling sluggish and tired all day long, thereby affecting your work and daily routine.
4. Your relationships
Today, many couples post their pictures (with heartwarming captions) on social media, setting and redefining couple and family goals; and while there is nothing wrong with that, it might take them away from meeting their real-life relationship goals!
The constant need to check your phone may affect the quantity and quality of your real-life interactions with your partner. Even when you go out with your friends to a restaurant, most of them get busy with clicking pictures of the food, rather than enjoying the meal itself. You may try to have a real conversation with your spouse and children, but it probably gets interrupted with important calls and unimportant notifications, and the people sitting in front of you may unintentionally take a back seat in your life. When you’re with your family, and especially your kids, ensure that you give them your entire, undivided attention. Notifications may keep appearing but nothing will bring back the good times you spend with your loved ones!
5. Your happiness – the most important and the most ignored one
If you’re reading this point, then we assume that you have gone through the above four. So let’s get down to it – how can extended screen time make you happy, if it’s one of the root causes of several other problems stated above? While we understand that you can’t cut down on your work-related screen time, what’s your excuse for being glued to screens for fun? Whatever free time you have today, which you once spent on pursuing your hobbies and doing your daily chores, now goes in scrolling through your Facebook and Instagram feeds. Without even realizing it, you waste plenty of time, feeling happy YET insecure at the same time. The time spent on social media is like gaining empty calories, where you may feel motivated for a few minutes, but something you’ll regret later for having done nothing productive with. This unhappiness will be reflected in your daily life and the resultant negativity may rub off on your family and friends too.
In this technology-driven world, you’re likely to feel that you’re missing out on your life if you’re not active on social media. We are not saying that you don’t have to be on it. All we are suggesting is that you set some healthy boundaries for yourself, just as you do for your kids, because it’s too easy to lose yourself in the alluring digital world.
Now that you are aware of the ‘whys’, let’s discuss the solutions that can help you in attaining your goal of limiting screen time.
- Take a break at work – While at work, take breaks often. Look away from screens every 20 minutes. Stand up and walk around; go fill your water bottle and use the staircase instead of the elevator. While sitting on your chair, stretch your neck, back, and legs regularly. You can also learn a few exercises that you can do at your office desk.
- Use technology for good – Everything has two sides – positive and negative – how you look at it or in this case, use it, makes the difference. Smartphones, the internet, and social media may be indispensable for you now, but how about from now on, you consume it for good? Download applications that can act as a medium to achieve your goals. You can set alarms on your phone informing you to take a break. You can download an app to maintain your to-do-list. You can even have apps that help you keep a count of the calories you consume or the number of steps you take in a day. See, there are several positive ways in which you can use your screen time!
- Walk while talking on the phone – Instead of sitting and talking on your phone, walk around while having those long conversations with your best friend. This way you’ll stay healthy and maintain your relationships with the ones who mean a lot to you!
- Get creative – Yes, you can take up a hobby even if you’re in your late 20s or 30s – it’s never too late to learn something new. Other than this, you can also indulge in creative activities with your kids. Try art and craft activities with them, or just go outdoors and have fun. Do something that doesn’t remind you of your phone.
- Exercise – You knew this was coming, right? Exercise can help you fight depression and insomnia, and can help you stay fit. It can help you tackle all the problems associated with screen time. Besides, when you’re up and running, you’re hardly going to be using your phone during that time, AND your body will be benefitting from exercise too. So, get up and get moving!
Staying away from screens, especially in this digital age, can be hard, but it’s something you have to learn to do. Taking breaks from screens is important to lead a healthy and happy life. So, incorporate healthy habits into your life and bid adieu to your screen addiction.