You often hear that too much screen time is bad for children but what about adults? We spend quite a considerable amount of daily screen time whether it is working, on your phone catching up on social media and yes, all that Netflix chilling. In fact, in 2019, YouGov, a global public opinion and data company, revealed that one in six Malaysians spend more than nine hours a day on social media (what are you guys doing, really!) and that women are more likely to spend more time checking up on their social media.
And now with all the staying at home, we are spending even more time in front of our gadgets, constantly working and constantly catching up on friends via their social media updates (that’s the only way to know what’s up!). Interestingly too, the amount of hours watching TV increased since the COVID-19 outbreak and Movement Control Order (MCO) last year, from five hours 36 minutes (Jan 2020) to seven hours eight minutes in March the same year! It’s all that documentary watching on Netflix!
So what’s the big deal? Aside from the fact that a lot of time spent on social media means less time doing other things that really matter (like catching up on some reading and if you’re a late night screen time person, sleep!), too much screen time is affecting our health physically and mentally. Here are some consequences:
Physical strain to the eyes. Eyes feel more strained and dry after a long day of facing the laptop? Neck ache that won’t go away? These are all signs of you spending too much time facing the screens or spending long hours with your head bowed down to look at your phone.
Anxiety when you can’t get online. So that website took more than three seconds to load but it feels like forever! Service is down in wherever you are or your phone is out of battery, and you can’t help but feel bored and restless. All this anxiety that you feel points to one thing: You are completely reliant on your gadgets!
Can’t put ‘em down. Are you the type to bring your phone in the toilet or reach out for your phone immediately after waking up? Careful there – you might have a screen addiction.
There are other signs too like not meeting deadlines (because you’re constantly online instead of working), strained relationships with family and friends (that’s what looking at your phone during dinner instead of talking to your family can do), and even trouble falling asleep (blue light from digital devices suppresses melanin, the sleep-promoting hormone, keeping you from having restful sleep).
If all of the above sounds familiar, it’s time to hit the reset button and kick your screen time habit. Believe it or not, the solutions are quite easy, provided you’re committed to them. Try these out:
#1 Keep your phone out of the room
The only way to stop letting your digital devices interfere with your sleep is by keeping it out of the room. Tough love but it works. Power down your devices an hour before bedtime. Need some distraction before you sleep? How about a book?
#2 Go out!
OK – it might be difficult to do with COVID-19 in the background but you can always take a walk around the neighbourhood midst work. Simple activities like walking can help you break the chain of too much screen time. Or make yourself a cup of coffee, drag a chair to the balcony and enjoy the fresh air and view (no phone in hand).
#3 Give yourself a reminder
With WFH at full force for many companies, it’s hard to tear your eyes away from your laptop screen. If you are having trouble taking a break from the constant staring at the screen, set alarms that go off every 30 minutes to remind yourself to take a breather and look away. Also, while eating – a popular time to browse social media – why not have a conversation with the people at the kitchen table instead?
#4 Get busy
Pick up a new hobby – making bread, DIY furniture – anything that you’d rather do than spend time on your gadgets. These will give you more gratification than just checking out what your friend had for lunch.
What are your ways to reduce screen time? Share it with us @Graduan on Twitter!
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash