There has been a lot of discussion among scientists, in the media, and in our homes about “screen time,” which is a catchall term for our use of gadgets like computers, iPads/tablets, phones, video games, etc. Between wanting to use our new holiday gifts and the cold weather that keeps us inside, this time of year can be easy to fall into patterns of higher screen time each day.
Screen time is just now something that has begun to be researched, so there is not a lot of information about what the effects are currently. Studies do show that we tend to use on average of 40 hours of screen time, and this does not necessarily include computer time at work or school.
While technology, social media, and our phones can lead to positive experiences, too much screen time can lead to harmful effects for children and adults, including vision impairment, addiction, less sleep, and less physical activity. In children and teens, we tend to see more attention issues, poor impulse control, impacted social skills, and lower self-confidence.
Simple ways to find balance in our use of electronics:
* Follow the 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes you are looking at a screen, take a 20 second break, and look at something 20 feet away.
* Take breaks to stand up, walk around, or do something active.
* Set limits on our devices:
o Put our phone up when walking down the street.
o Set a timer to prevent binge-watching our favorite shows
o Set social media limits on our phones
* Have family screen-free time each day. Examples could be at the dinner table or an hour before bedtime.
* Power our devices off at night and keep devices out of children’s bedrooms.
In order to avoid negative effects of screen time, it is not necessary or always realistic to eradicate these devices from our lives. However, it is important to have a conversation about what is a healthy limit for ourselves and our families, set those boundaries, and enforce them.
Elliott Counseling Group has over 30 therapists. We’re located in Champaign, Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, and in Tuscola. We offer daytime, evening, and Saturday appointments and accept most insurances