Anyone can benefit from less time focusing on their phones, TVs, and computers. According to the CDC, youth aged 11-18 spend an average of 8 1/4 hours daily in front of a screen. In this post, you will find reasons why lowering that number could help improve your overall health, especially if you are a teenager.
A 2020 study has linked excess screen use to increased depressive symptoms in teens. One reason is that it makes us constantly compare ourselves to others. Electronics can make us feel bad because we only see the best of other people’s lives on social media. Too much screen usage can contribute to other mental health issues, including anxiety and low self-esteem. Social media is also a perfect platform for bullies to spread negativity and hurtful comments, thus likely worsening your mental health.
The teenage brain is constantly building new neural connections while removing less-used ones. Using electronics too much provides constant stimulation and no time for our minds to wander and think of new ideas. The instant gratification social media and electronics offer can change the chemistry of our developing teenage brains. Even adult brains are affected by this, but the effect is not as significant. Changes to brain chemistry can have many downsides, even increasing our risk for future addictive behavior like gambling or drug and alcohol use.
Less time spent on devices with screens means more time spent on other activities like schoolwork, hanging out with friends, or working out. Spending time on more meaningful activities will help improve your memory as it will be easier to remember experiences more vividly.
A recent study has linked negative effects on academic performance with increased screen usage. It is unnecessary to limit all screen time, but it is necessary to restrict it for good academic performance. Trying to focus on homework assignments before using devices may improve your performance in school. Doing this can be especially helpful for people who tend to push things to the deadline (procrastinate).
The sleep foundation recommends avoiding screens for a few hours before bed to get optimal sleep. People who sleep next to cell phones are more likely to sleep poorly, possibly affecting their mood and academic performance the next day. Devices and social media can make it hard to unwind before bed because of the limitless stimulation. Reading or journaling before bed are relaxing activities to draw attention away from screens.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, research has shown that the average teen spends 8 1/4 hours per day using a screen. If you have five or more extra hours each day by limiting your screen usage, you are more likely to be physically active by doing sports or working out. When we have more physical activity, we will have more energy, and our overall health improves.
If you spend too much time focusing on video games or TV, you will spend a lot of time in a seated position. Time adds up quickly. It is easy to forget to stretch, take a brief walk, or give your eyes a rest. Looking down at a phone or watching TV could cause neck, shoulder, or eye pain due to strain if you do this for a long time. A great rule to help your eyes stay healthy is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes focus on something 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds. You can set timers on your phone to help you remember.
Nothing is worse than being around others who just won’t put their phone down. It is easy to get sucked into a screen and forget to focus on the people around you. Limiting screen time will promote social interaction greatly. Reducing screen time can help you not be one of those people who can’t stop using their phones during a meal or a social interaction.
If this article convinced you that being on a screen for multiple hours a day is not worth it, check out this article to learn how to reduce your screen time. I hope that you got value out of reading this. I also hope you discovered just how harmful excess screen time can be and that you put your newfound knowledge to use!