The majority of Americans spend a lot of time in front of screens. Sixty-one percent report more than five hours per day on average, and 30 percent say they look at screens for at least nine hours a day. This is taking a toll.
Too much screen time isn’t just bad for your eyes, although this is certainly a negative consequence that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s also bad for your brain and for your overall health. Too much screen time can negatively impact your sleep, cardiovascular health, and it can even restructure the matter that makes up your brain. However, these days screen time can feel like a non-negotiable part of working life. And, you’re likely in front of screens during a good portion of your off-hours too. Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to help combat the negative effects. Here are some quick tips:
1. Be aware of how much time you really spend
Tracking your screen time is a great way to gain a better understanding of how, when, and just how much you use your devices. Once you know more, you might find yourself naturally leaning away from technology just a little bit. Apps like Moment and Checky can be real game changers.
Tracking your screen time is a great way to gain a better understanding of how, when, and just how much you use your devices. Apps like Moment and Checky can be real game changers.
2. Adjust your display settings
Adjusting the display setting on your computer can be beneficial. Start by adjusting the “brightness” to match the approximate brightness of your workstation. Also, adjust “text size and contrast” (black on white background is the best combination) for your comfort. You can also reduce the “color temperature” of your computer’s display to lower the amount of blue light emitted which should make for more comfortable viewing.
3. Install an anti-glare screen cover
There are lots of products on the market that you can use to help reduce the negative impact of too much screen time. There are special glasses that block blue light, and there are screen covers that you can put on top of your screens to reduce glare.
4. Choose face time, Not FACETIME
One way to reduce the negative effects of screen time is simply to change the amount of time you spend in front of screens in the first place. So, when you’re at work (and in your personal life too) choose face time when you can instead of sending an email or a text. No, not that FaceTime, actual real, live, in-person face to face time. This isn’t always practical. But sometimes it is. Look for those opportunities and take advantage of them.
5. Step up your exposure to natural beauty
Research has found that green spaces enhance mental health and exposure to sunlight can improve attention. Giving your eyes a chance to rest on some natural beauty can help combat the negative impact of too much screen time. Think “green time over screen time.” It improves your capacity to learn and it reduces stress.
Giving your eyes a chance to rest on some natural beauty can help combat the negative impact of too much screen time. Think 'green time over screen time.' It improves your capacity to learn and it reduces stress.
6. Set limits for yourself
This might seem like really obvious advice, but how many people actually make a point to intentionally limit their screen time? If you feel you’re getting too much exposure and you’d like to cut back, impose some limits. Maybe four hours of Netflix in the evening, after a full day spent in front of a computer at work, really isn’t in your best interest. So think about where you’d like to draw the line and then do your best to stick with the plan.
This might seem like really obvious advice, but if you feel you’re getting too much screen time, impose some limits. Maybe four hours of Netflix after a full day spent in front of a computer at work really isn’t in your best interest.
7. Take a 20-20-20 break
Even if you aren’t aware of it, looking at a computer screen all day isn’t good for your eyes. So, you should try to be mindful of the strain, even if it’s not something your consciously aware of in the moment. A good habit is to observe something experts call a 20-20-20 break. Every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away from you. It will give your eyes a little rest.
8. Try a screen-time cleanse
The basic idea behind a cleanse is that it rids your body of toxins and gives you a chance at a fresh start. This can work with screens just as it does with food. So, try putting down the electronics entirely for one whole day (an entire weekend would be even better) when you don’t have to check-in with work. The experience might give you a whole new outlook on your relationship with technology. And it should also help you reset any bad habits you’re trying to break.
9. Listen to your body
Too much screen time is bad for your eyes, but you might feel the harmful effects in some other way first. If your shoulders hurt, or your lower back, or your neck, pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. Take a few minutes to get up and stretch. Don’t simply push past the aches and pains associated with too much screen time. Listen to your body and give yourself a quick break when you need it throughout the day.
10. Give it a rest before bed
Studies have found that too much screen time, particularly before bed, leads to more sleep disturbances. So, try taking a break from screens for 60, or even just 30, minutes before bed. Sleep is essential and restorative. Give yourself the opportunity to reap the full benefits of rest and take a solid break from screens during these times.
Studies have found that too much screen time leads to sleep disturbances. So try taking a break from screens for 60 minutes before bed. Sleep is essential and restorative. Give yourself the opportunity to reap the full benefits.
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