As moms, most of us hope to manage our children's screen time well. It's common knowledge that too much time in front of the TV, tablet, and smartphone can have negative effects on children. But what about adults?
How many of us zone out scrolling social media or fall down the rabbit hole of Amazon or Pinterest? I know this happens because I'm fully guilty of being that mom. I've become more aware of my screen time overload so I thought I might not possibly be the only one. I want to share some effects of screen time here and suggestions how you and I can have a more balanced approach.
This blogpost contains affiliate links. I may receive commissions when you click through and shop links or ads, with no additional cost to you. Thank you for your supporting my blog, business, and family
Vision Issues - Looking at screens for extended periods of time can cause "computer vision syndrome" which can lead to blurred vision, strained eyes, and headaches.
What's worked for me - set timers for any screen time (even work-related) and go do something away for a while. Take a walk, chat with someone, grab coffee; and leave your phone behind. Take a device break.
Poor Sleep - Blue Light from screens suppress melatonin keeping us from restful sleep.
What's worked for me - setting an evening limit to put my phone away and instead reading a book in bed until I'm ready to sleep and putting my phone away at night. I've been using this alarm clock instead of my phone to wake up to.
Impaired Cognitive Function - Studies have found that too much screen time leads to less efficient information processing. I can attest that to be true. During seasons where I'm on my phone a ton, I find it harder to focus; I'm easily distracted or feel more heavy brain fog.
What's worked for me - putting my phone away while commuting, leaving my phone behind during tasks where I might normally take it with me (walking my dog), charging my phone in a separate room than my bedroom so it's not the first and last thing I turn to during the day.
Weight Gain - This is simple. The more we sit in front of screens, the more sedentary our lifestyle will likely be.
What's worked for me - Well I did swap one screen for another. While once scrolling my phone doing half-ass cardio on a gym machine; I now have a more high intensity workout at home streaming from my computer. It is still a screen, but it lends to a great daily habit that's actually good for me.
Excessive screen time can also lead to things like damaged relationships, addictive behavior, less happiness, and other negative effects. I think having awareness and balance is key to a healthy relationship with our screens and devices.
Ways to Reduce Screen Time
* Cut out screen time an hour or two before bed (Stop scrolling yourself to sleep!)
* Cut out screen time first thing in the morning (I suggest a Miracle Morning Practice phone free)
* Set a timer - for personal or work related phone activity. Take breaks from your screens. Getting out into nature would be an excellent screen break! Or do some stretching.
* Don't eat meals with your phone. Especially with company or guests.
* Have a family device charging station outside of the bedrooms.
* Move your social media apps to second, third, or fourth page rather than home screen.
* Turn off notifications.
* Set specific phone use hours (i.e. only check emails between 8am-3pm or only check Facebook between 4-6pm).
* Set limits on apps (iPhone users have access to this feature. I'm not sure about android)
* Put your screen on greyscale
* Use Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode feature
* Set a screen time goal for the day or week and celebrate when you reach it!
Make it Work Mama
We all want to live our happiest, healthiest life. So if screen time is an issue for you, let's make balancing it out a goal for this year? What do ya say?
(If you're not sure whether you have a problem with screen time, this article is helpful)
Here are some final thoughts specific to moms about handling screen time.
1. Don't let your screen become a mini wall between you and your children or you and your partner. They shouldn't have to speak through a gadget to communicate with you. When your family needs your attention, put your phone down, and look them in the eye. Give them the attention and respect you'd offer someone of authority. They deserve it. And you're setting the example.
2. Get accountability. Find a friend or ask your spouse to help keep you in check. Maybe you can help one another. Just have the convo and ask them, "Hey will you give me a gentle reminder if you see me on my phone too much" (and try not to be mad when they actually do!)
3. Take it one day and one win at a time. Maybe delete Facebook for a week. Or try a screen free Sunday with your family. It doesn't have to be all or nothing right away. Our goal is awareness and balance.
Best of luck to all of us! We live in a digital age and I believe it can be a force for us or against us. As we fight for our families and raise our children to be the kind, intelligent, self-leading adults we hope they'd be, may we set an example ourselves, with grace, heart, and commitment.
Malia was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii and graduated from Azusa Pacific University. She spent the majority of her career as an Early Childhood Education Teacher/Administrator.