Let’s face it: screens have taken over our lives. We wake up to them, carry them wherever we go, and even fall asleep with them by our side. In fact, high screen time has become so normalised that we barely notice the hours we spend staring at our devices each day. But did you ever stop to think about the impact of this addiction on your life?
So, you want facts before reading any further. Don’t you?
Daily mobile device usage in the UK has been on the rise, with users spending an average of four hours and 14 minutes per day on their devices in 2022 – a significant increase from 3.7 hours in 2020. For many college students and teenagers in the UK, high screen time has become a constant companion. It’s easy to see why – screens provide instant gratification, entertainment, and social connection.
But what are the effects of screen time on your health, and how can you break free from this addiction and regain control of your life? In this blog, we’ll explore the effects of high screen time and practical tips and tools to help you reduce screen time and cultivate a healthier relationship with technology.
Screen Time For Adults: How Much Is Too Much?
In a world where screens dominate our every waking moment, it’s easy to lose track of how much time we spend staring at them. And while we often hear about the risks of excessive screen time for kids, what about adults?
With many of us spending hours glued to our devices for work and leisure, it’s no wonder that screen addiction has become a growing concern, especially during the pandemic, where online interactions have replaced in-person ones.
While there’s no magic number, research shows excessive screen time can harm your mental and physical health. A six-hour daily screen time was linked to a higher risk of depression, while limiting social media use to 30 minutes improved well-being, according to studies.
Negative Effects Of High Screen Time
It’s no secret that tech has changed how we live our lives, and with the pandemic forcing many of us to work and socialise online, screen time has skyrocketed. But all that screen time may come at a cost.
Some of the negative effects of high screen time are:
1. Poor Sleep and Insomnia
Excessive screen time can impact your sleep quality because the blue light emitted from digital devices interferes with the production of the sleep hormone and makes it harder to fall asleep, especially when using devices before bedtime.
The constant stimulation from screens during the day can also make it difficult to unwind at night, affecting your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
2. Cognitive Impairment
Excessive screen time can damage your cognitive abilities, affecting memory, concentration, and impulse control. A 2020 study found that smartphone addiction can lead to poorer cognitive performance and damage to brain communication networks.
This is especially concerning for children, whose developing brains may be more vulnerable to these adverse effects. It’s crucial to be mindful of our screen time and prioritise activities that promote cognitive health.
3. Headaches and Eye Strain
Spending endless hours in front of screens has become a daily routine for many of us, but it comes with a price. Excessive screen time can significantly impact your eyes. The blue light emanating from digital screens can lead to eye strain, dryness, and blurred vision.
This, combined with poor posture and hunching over devices, can lead to neck and shoulder pain. Moreover, constant exposure to glare and brightness from screens can cause headaches, making it difficult to focus on work or enjoy leisure time.
Excessive screen time can lead to obesity due to the lack of physical activity and the temptation to snack while using digital devices. This sedentary lifestyle can also impact heart health and increase the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. Watching just a few extra hours of TV per day significantly increases the risk of becoming obese.
5. Addictive Behaviours
The addictive nature of smartphones and social media is a growing concern. People can develop compulsive behaviours, such as constantly thinking about the device or platform, using it to cope with their mood, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to access it. These behaviours can interfere with daily life, making recognising and addressing them important.
6. Physical Inactivity
With the rise of screens, physical activity has taken a backseat in many people’s lives. Long hours spent on screens have led to a sedentary lifestyle, associated with a higher risk of obesity and other physical health issues.
7. Poor Posture
Spending long periods hunched over a screen can cause neck and back pain and poor posture.
5 Tips for Reducing Screen Time
The top five tips to help you reduce your screen time and improve your overall well-being are:
1. Set Goals:
Set specific goals for how much screen time you want to cut back on each day or week. Having a clear target in mind can help you stay motivated and focused.
2. Turn Off Notifications:
Disable unnecessary notifications from apps that constantly grab your attention. This will reduce the urge to check your phone or device constantly.
3. Engage in Physical Activities:
Incorporate physical activities into your daily routine, such as taking walks, practicing yoga, or working out. This will help reduce your screen time and improve your physical health.
4. Set a Timer:
Use a timer to limit your screen time when watching television or using a tablet. Once your set timer goes off, turn off the device and engage in physical activities.
5. Read Books or Listen to Podcasts:
Switch to reading books or listening to podcasts as an alternative to spending time on your phone or device.
The Bottom Line
Excessive screen time is a growing concern in today’s digital age. Recognising its negative impacts on your physical and mental health is important. But it’s not too late to take action. You can reduce screen time and improve your overall well-being by implementing small changes in your daily routines, such as turning off notifications, setting timers, and leaving your phones out of the bedroom.
So, are you ready to take the first step towards a healthier, more balanced life and break free from the new addiction that’s taking over?