A recent Australian study found that most adults spend more time in front of screens than they do sleeping each day.
This is pretty concerning given most Aussies aren't sleeping enough, getting enough physical exercise or adequate nutrition.
Often, a large chuck of screen time is spent mindlessly scrolling through social media (facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat etc). Research has also found that the more social networks an adult uses, the more likely they are to experience depression and anxiety symptoms.
So why are we so hooked on screen time?
Put simply - it's convenient and for many of us, part of our routine. If we want to look up a recipe, ask a friend about their weekend plans or read the news etc, we reach for our phone or device. If we're waiting for a friend or sitting in a waiting room, we reach for our phone. If we need directions - you get the idea..
Instead of going to the cinemas or drive in, we can easily watch a movie online from our couch. Instead of going to a shop to look at furniture or clothes, this too can be done online.
The online world has infiltrated our everyday life.
Modern life demands that we are surrounded by screens.
How often do you find yourself pulling out your phone and just 'checking' your e-mail, messenger or news feed?
How often do you find yourself doing this in the company of others?
Every time you 'check' your phone, you receive a dopamine hit in the same area of the brain that is activated when people gamble or take drugs.
We're essentially becoming addicted to our devices.
So what can you do about it?
When was the last time you went somewhere without your phone?
Start by being more aware of your screen time. Notice when you feel that 'urge' to check your phone.
Is it because you're bored, nervous, stressed or perhaps procrastinating ?
- Turn off notifications for apps - this way your phone isn't buzzing every few minutes.
- Put your phone away when you're spending time with family or friends.
- Instead of coming home and vegging out on the couch binge watching netflix, set yourself a limit and stick to it. If you have time for hours of netflix, you have time to get some exercise and connect with loved ones - no excuses.
- Excessive screen time can have a range of negative impacts on children.
Don't just tell the kids to get off their devices and play outside.
Instead get out and about with them - lead by example.
Start to explore and enjoy nature again (and leave the phones at home or in the car!)
- If you're really game, download the iphone app 'Moment'. It logs how much time you spend on your phone each day, how may times you picked it up and which app takes up most of your time.
It can be quite confronting but could motivate you to take control of your time.
Don't allow yourself to be a slave to screens.
Use them to enhance your life, not control it.