How many screens do you think you look at in a day? Or better yet, how much of your day is spent in front of a screen? Let’s face it, we live in a world of connectivity and personal devices. Everywhere we look, there’s often a screen close by that wants our attention. Whether it’s social media, online videos or even working from home, there’s a lot to keep us busy in front of a screen.
But isn’t it all just too much? Aren’t we a little too connected? Have you ever wanted to disconnect? Well, there’s a day for that. March 4 is known as the National Day of Unplugging. From sunup to sundown, 24 hours of no screen time whatsoever. In celebration of this day, we’re taking a look at the problems with too much screen time and how addiction to your device can get in the way of life. We’ve also got some screen-free activities you can do with your loved ones now!
The harmful effects of too much screen time
Before the pandemic, the average screen time for adults in the US alone was around close to 12 hours.1 That means almost half the day is spent on smartphones, televisions and computers. It goes without saying that these last few years have found us more at home and online than ever before, likely leading to an increase in time spent in front of screens.
This growing focus on being in front of a screen can lead to serious physical and mental health problems.
Some common physical issues associated with too much screen time include:
- Eyestrain. The blue light emitted from screens can cause eye strain. This condition typically comes as a result of overly tired and overused eyes. Your posture at your desk or while on your phone can also put more tension on your eyes and wear them out.
- Lack of sleep. Blue light from devices also keeps you awake! It actively blocks the melatonin hormone that helps you fall asleep.2
- Neck and back pain. The more time we are sitting in front of a screen the more chances we have of developing a poor posture and developing pains in our neck and back.
- Cardiovascular health. When we’re looking at a screen, we’re often not really moving. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to increased risk of developing heart disease due to the lack of movement and exercise.3
- Link to depression. Oddly enough, constant connection to the digital world may actually make us feel more disconnected. Studies in the US have shown that people who spend more than 4 hours of screen time per day are more likely to develop moderate or severe depression.
Cutting back on screen time
With the National Day of Unplugging on its way, there is no better time to start cutting down the amount of time you spend in front of a screen. Here are some helpful tips to you get you started.
- Track and limit. Ironically, most of our devices have functions that can actually track your screen time. Use these functions to see how much time you’re spending on a phone or computer. If your phone is telling you that you’re using Instagram or Facebook too much, you can set app time limits that’ll close the app after a designated time.
- Keep devices out of reach. When you’re done working for the day, take the evening to stay off a phone or tablet. Put them away in a drawer or cabinet for the night to give yourself a break. This also works wonders for when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep.
- Switch to grayscale. Most phones have the option to turn off colors and go greyscale. By turning off colors, you’re making staring at a phone less appealing. For iOS devices, head into settings > accessibility > display & text size > color filters and then switch on greyscale. For Android devices, head into settings > accessibility > text and display > color correction and then select greyscale.
Need a break from screens? Try these activities
- Head outside. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. After a day of working, why not head outside and take a walk? Or go for a bike ride? You can even sit outside for fresh air to relax your mind and body.
- Pick up a new hobby. What better way to help unwind than picking up a book or taking up gardening? Hobbies that take you away from a screen are a great way to recharge and rest not only your eyes, but your mind as well.
- Volunteer. Try serving food at a shelter or assembling back-to-school kits for kids. You can also volunteer at a humane society and walk dogs if you have a passion for animals. Volunteering helps you disconnect from the online world and reconnect with the physical world around us.
How our members can skip out on screen time
When you’re a Foresters member, you’ve got access to some great benefits that can go a long way to curbing screen time.
With Foresters GoTM, our unique health and wellness app, you can partake in fun and healthy activities and challenges that get you out and active more often. You can also earn amazing Rewards Points that can be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards and charity donations.
Members can also use our Community Grants and Foresters CareTM grant to help make a difference in the lives of their community or family. You can use the grants to organize a food drive, create care kits or take your family for an outing away from home and your screens.
420442 CAN/US (03/22)