These days, it’s common for many people to spend a big chunk of their day in front of a screen. Whether it’s a computer monitor, tablet, television or smartphone, we often find ourselves gazing at screens for longer than we think. In fact, according to Nielson Company, Americans spend an average of more than 10 hours looking at them every day.
It’s amazing how quickly those screen-time hours add up. And unfortunately, too much time in front of screens can have adverse effects on our health. But the good news is that by limiting your screen time to a few hours per day (or even less for kids), you can get lots of helpful benefits. These include:
More restful sleep. Having your eyes glued to a screen right before bed is disruptive to sleep. One reason for this is because the bright light tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, so instead of preparing for sleep, it becomes more active. The light also inhibits your brain’s ability to make melatonin, a hormone that’s key to regulating sleep.
Better posture. When we sit in front of screens, we have a tendency to slouch. This puts extra stress on our back muscles and spine, and can lead to long-term health issues including chronic pain. That’s why it’s always a great idea to get up and move around at least once per hour when using a screen.
Improved social skills. This one is especially important for kids and young adults. When spending time in front of a screen, it means you probably aren’t directly interacting with others — and being social is critical for a young person’s development. Excessive screen time can lead to feelings of isolation, so make sure your kids are spending time hanging out with friends if they do love to be in front of a screen.
Healthier eyes. All that time with screens takes a real toll on our eyeballs. While some people are more affected than others, it’s common to experience eye strain, dryness, blurry vision, irritation and other symptoms caused by excessive screen time. But less time in front of screens can reduce these issues and make your eyes healthier.
If you want to reduce your screen time, there are plenty of things you can try. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Put away screens at least an hour before you go to sleep.
- Take more walks and leave your smartphone at home.
- Don’t eat in front of the television.
- Play more board games.
- Don’t watch movies or shows in bed.
- Make one room in your house a screen-free zone (including smartphones).
With a little bit of effort, you can reduce your screen time and get on the path to better health. Be sure to try and get friends and family members on board, too — which shouldn’t be too tough when you explain all the amazing benefits they’ll get by putting the screens away.
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