Based on recent research, the average American consumes up five times the amount of information as those born 50 years ago. Whether through a cell phone, tablet, television, or laptop, the devices that provide us with this information and content can also significantly consume our daily routines. With a combination of work and recreational use, the average adult can spend up to 12 hours of their day looking at a screen.
While abandoning screens altogether is certainly unrealistic in today’s digital world, it’s important to strike the right balance between time on our devices and time pursuing other hobbies or activities. Depending on the goals you have, whether to reduce your screen time or improve the quality of it, there are many resources available to help you successfully navigate a lifestyle change to your benefit.
Download Apps or Plug-Ins on Personal Devices
If you’re looking for ways to both monitor and limit your screen time, applications and plug-ins can be downloaded for both Android and Apple devices to provide reporting for device usage. With resources like these, you can easily understand what applications you’re spending the most time on (i.e., social networks, streaming, articles, etc.) and implement restrictions on the allowed usage of these specific items.
If you’re looking for a stricter approach, some tools may shut down specific apps after a certain period of usage to help you stick to your goals. Apple’s new iOS has a feature that allows you to set restrictions for your apps at a specific time of day. Then, when you try to open an app, you are alerted that it’s past your restricted time. It can really help you be aware of how much time you’re spending on certain apps. Apple also has a feature you can enable that sends your weekly screen time reports on Sundays. You can check to see if it’s gone down week over week or up.
Diversify Your Screen Time
While looking at a screen may be inevitable, the content we consume can be a choice. If you’re looking for alternatives to scrolling through your social media, consider finding ways to connect with others through digital experiences.
Multiplayer video games are an excellent opportunity for individuals to participate in a memorable, shared screen-based experience. In a recent survey of individuals who frequently play video games, over 34 percent of respondents said that building relationships was their favorite part of online gaming, and one out of every three respondents shared that they have met either a close friend or significant other through this shared interest.
For parents, co-using devices while gaming can be a great way to make a child’s screen time more valuable. In finding interactive games and apps for two players, you turn what could be isolated screen time into an opportunity of learning, teaching and growing together.
Create Spaces for Time On vs. Time Off
One of the best ways to create a better balance of screen time in the home is to set clear boundaries of when personal devices are allowed to be used. Each household is different and will have separate needs and goals, requiring individualized plans for each situation. To help spark a few ideas on how to regulate the amount of time you and your family members spend looking at screens, we suggest:
- Setting time limits to television consumption and creating a schedule for viewing;
- Removing devices from spaces in your home like a bedroom to encourage sleeping when in those rooms;
- Not allowing personal handheld devices during designated family hours like dinner time or movie nights.
Start Small and Set Attainable Goals
In making a shift, whether to adjust your time spent on a screen or the content you’re consuming through it, remember to start small and set attainable goals. No one can make these changes overnight, but you can find ways to shift your normal routines to move toward a better balance.