Webs, weeds and wisdom: Screen time is a turn-off

Last month I wrote about the problems caused by too much screen time and promised some ways to limit them this month.

Think of others

Sometimes considering what impact your action has on others makes it easier to give up or cut down on addictions. I know this is way I quit smoking. I feared for my unborn child, so it was relatively easy to quit. The same has worked for a number of people with alcohol problems.

If your screen use has become excessive, it is probably impacting on others (family, work colleagues, friends). Parents also need to consider the impact their screen use has on children’s development. It has been shown the children who have been held, rocked, soothed and attended to by an engaged parent (think eye contact: hard to do if you’re watching a screen) have larger brains than children who are touched less or who are outright neglected. Further, healthy attachment to parents/caregivers actually protects against addictions of all kinds, including tech addiction. 

Breaks in use

If you must use a screen for a number of hours in the day, be sure to take breaks. Setting a phone timer for 30 minute intervals could prove useful in getting you up, stretching and looking at things in the distance (6m+). If you wear a Fitbit, act on its reminders to get up and walk. Of course eating away from the screen is a must.

If you must use a screen for a number of hours in the day, be sure to take breaks. Set a phone timer for 30-minute intervals. Photo: Marina Neil

If you must use a screen for a number of hours in the day, be sure to take breaks. Set a phone timer for 30-minute intervals. Photo: Marina Neil

Limit at bedtime

Limit or eliminate screen use before bedtime, and certainly in the bedroom, so sleep is not disrupted and restorative sleep can occur to reduce inflammation, consolidate learning and generally clean up.

Take a walk

According to Psychology Today, ‘Greenery restores attention by drawing the eye while calming the nervous system simultaneously, creating a state of “calm alertness”, a state considered ideal for learning. (This is in contrast to stress-based alertness associated with screen activities, which deplete attention.)

Greenery restores attention by drawing the eye while calming the nervous system simultaneously, creating a state of “calm alertness”. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Greenery restores attention by drawing the eye while calming the nervous system simultaneously, creating a state of “calm alertness”. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Mindfulness

Take time out for mindfulness activities like prayer, yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises.

This is very important as we get too much stimulation from electronic stimulation combined with our hectic lifestyles, and mindfulness reverses some of this.

Mindfulness activities, such as prayer, yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises, can reverse some of our over-stimulation. Photo: Adam McLean

Mindfulness activities, such as prayer, yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises, can reverse some of our over-stimulation. Photo: Adam McLean

Turn off Wi-Fi

This last one is drastic: go wired and turn off the Wi-Fi. Research suggests that electromagnetic fields emitted by Wi-Fi signals may suppress melatonin and increase arousal levels, just as screen light does. This is too tough for me at the moment, but I will try to turn off the Wi-Fi at night to give my nervous system a break.

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