Healthy Screen Time Habits
Let’s face it, with the COVID-19 restrictions we have all found comfort in our devices to connect ourselves with the people we miss most, to conduct business and schoolwork, and to escape from our realities and responsibilities through insurmountable hours of video or television streaming services.
Normally, we would encourage families to pay attention to prolonged screen time and the impact it is having on our children’s physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. As an agency working to promote safe online habits, we strive to follow the World Health Organization’s recommendations for appropriate times spent behind our devices. For the majority of us, that’s simply not an option right now.
Despite the fact that most of our eyes are likely glued behind screens for the majority of the day and into our evenings, it is our hope that we can still work towards reframing the way we are looking at and responding to these devices in a healthy manner.
Breaking down screen time...
Screen Time is how much collective time you spend on your devices in a given period. It is essential to be mindful of screen time to avoid dependency on these technologies and ensure the time spent behind these devices isn’t having a negative impact on our daily lives. We’ve all known that sedentary lifestyles have a direct correlation to our physical well-being. Growing bodies of research also suggest that mental health issues, developmental issues with children, and communication and social skills are also being heavily impacted by the kinds of activities we are engaging in behind our screens.
How do you appropriately measure screen time?
We can thank the evolution of technology for tools to assist with counting how much time is being spent on a device. But where that time is spent, and how it is being spent, differs from platform to platform and user to user.
If you are on an Apple device, you can easily access your Screen Time in the user settings. Andriod users can locate their screen reports through Wellbeing. By using these functions, you can also set personal limits on the amount of time you want to dedicate to certain features on your devices such as social media platforms or games.
The ultimate goal of monitoring your screen time is to work towards redirecting all of the time you’re spending on your devices into productive and healthy habits. This is hard to do during a world-wide pandemic when many find comfort in the technologies that we have available to us.
If you find yourselves needing a break from the screen, or are struggling with finding ways to limit screen time when we are called to do everything behind them… here are some helpful tips from the SGS staff.
- Keep screens out of the bedroom. Your kids (especially younger children) should not be spending time on their phones or other devices behind closed doors. It is important to set this example by following it as well. This can prevent the device from having negative consequences on your child’s safety, their sleep, and will help them develop healthy habits in the future.
- Mealtime is screen-free time. Uniting our meals together has been a tradition in most households long before electronics. Allow the family a break from devices and strive to bond over a meal at least once a day.
- No excess screens during schoolwork or work. Although the coursework for school and the majority of work today is being conducted online, other screens not being used productively should be set aside to focus on the task at hand.
- Create a room designated for charging devices, preferably in the room of a parent or guardian. This will require your family to only be able to charge screens in one portion of the house, allowing time to take a break from the device.
- Limit screen time used as a reward. What happens when you give your child too much candy? They want more candy! We can teach them to use their devices as a tool, to create, or perhaps for entertainment purposes, but technology addiction is a difficult habit to break. Technology shouldn’t be used to replace the daily emotional or social needs of your children.
- Social media break. It’s okay to not always be connected. Remove the apps from your phone for one day, see the difference it makes when you can be intentional with time spent behind your screen.
- Curb news exposure. A lot of people are feeling heavy about how much information they are getting from their devices. Take a break, turn off the news, and focus on you.