Too much screen time? You’re not alone. According to recent figures, the average screen time is over 6 hours in Canada and over 7 hours in the United States. This includes time spent on mobile devices, computers, and in front of TVs.
More than causing tired, dry eyes, too much screen time can be harmful. Read on to find out why it’s best to avoid spending too much time in front of screens and discover some of the best ways to reduce screen time.
Why Is Too Much Screen Time Harmful?
Too much screen time increases the risk of sleep disturbances, obesity, and anxiety.
Spending more than 6 hours in front of a screen every day makes you more likely to become depressed.
And, of course, it’s bad for your eyes, increasing the risk for computer vision syndrome and dry eyes disease. When you use a computer, you blink 66% less. This causes your eyes to feel tired and dry.
Worried that too much screen time is making your eyes feel dry and tired?
Take the Dry Eye Test to find out whether you may have dry eyes disease.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adults and teens spend no more than two hours a day in front of screens. This may not always be possible if you work on a computer.
But there are many simple and effective ways to limit screen time that is not really necessary. From binging on social media feeds to spending too much time reading online news, here’s how to reduce screen time.
1. Keep Track of Your Screen Time
The first step to reducing screen time is realizing just how much time you’re spending before screens. This can motivate you to put your phone down, keep the TV off, or skip on playing a videogame.
Many mobile phones, tablets, and gaming consoles come with built-in screen time apps. For iOS, it’s Screen Time. For Android, Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls. Make sure that these are on.
2. Set a Screen Time Limit
Android, iOS, and other mobile platforms come with built-in features to reduce screen time. There are also many apps to reduce screen time across platforms, including computers, smart TVs, and gaming consoles.
Don’t try to limit all your screen time overnight, though. Rather, aim for gradual reductions. If you’re using your phone for four hours every day, aim to lower that to three, then two.
3. Turn Off Notifications
Disabling notifications will make you check your phone less. It can also make you more productive by interrupting you less.
Rather than checking your email each time a notification comes in, mute notifications and check your email and other apps at specific hours. For example, at 11:00 pm and 5:00 pm.
This will give you more control over your screen time and prevent random notifications from distracting you.
4. Remove (Some) Social Media Apps
Internet users spend on average over 145 minutes on social media every day, according to Statista. Social media activates pleasure centers in your brain. It can create a dopamine addiction.
But do you really need all the social media apps you’re using? Removing just one social media app from your phone can decrease your screen time by hours every week.
Take the leap. You may find that less social media makes you more content.
5. Take Fewer Photos with Your Phone
Did you know that taking too many photos with your phone prevents your brain from forming memories? Remember this next time you’re exploring a new place and feel tempted to take your phone out and snap photo after photo.
Taking fewer photos with your phone can also reduce the time you spend editing photos and using social media.
6. Turn Off “Raise to Wake”
With Raise to Wake on, the screen will turn on each time you pick up your mobile device. It may tempt you to use it even if you didn’t plan to. On the iPhone, you can disable it in Settings > Display & Brightness.
7. Don’t Sleep with Your Phone Next to Your Bed
If you do, you’re more likely to use it as an alarm clock and check it in the morning. That can add minutes or more to your total daily screen time. You’ll also be more likely to experience fear or anxiety without your phone.
What's more, research has found a link between screen time, lack of sleep, and myopia.
8. Create Phone-Free Areas in Your Home
One of the best tips to reduce screen time is to keep your phone away from certain areas of your home. Think the kitchen (or at least the dinner table), the bathroom, the garden.
You can inspire your whole family to enforce this rule by placing a friendly sign in these areas. This strategy can also help you get your kids off screens. Too much screen time can be especially damaging for children and teens.
Remove the TV from your bedroom too. It can help you sleep better and prevent stress and fatigue on the following day.
9. Set Aside Screen-Free Hours
Another way to limit screen time is to set aside hours during which you don’t use your phone. For example, the first hour after waking. Or the hour before you go to bed.
Stick to these hours so screen-free time becomes a habit.
10. Plan Outside Activities
Spending time outdoors in nature releases happy hormones that improve your mood and well-being. Whether you go on these outings alone, with friends, or with family, make it a point to leave your smartphone at home.
You can take a camera with you instead. And a simple phone without a touchscreen for emergencies.
11. Have a Weekly Screen-Free Day
It could be Sunday or any other day of the week that works for you. Whether you go out or stay at home reading, leave screens out of it. Make it a rule not to look at any screen except when receiving calls.
In the end, making a conscious effort to reduce screen time will take you halfway there.
Add a bit of determination, and you’ll be able to limit your screen time by hours every month. Without giving up on the benefits of having a smartphone, computer, smart TV, or tablet.