By Evy Gallagher
According to a Gear Brain article, the average American spends almost eight hours a day on digital devices. The introduction of smart devices into this generation has shifted some important life aspects online, such as jobs, communication and entertainment. The constant screen time can zap energy levels, cause eye strain and blue-light headaches and wreak havoc on mental health.
Easy access to a smart device comes in handy when needing to get in contact with a friend or quickly Google a fact. On the other hand, access to screens can become dangerous, especially when people start the habit of scrolling through TikTok or fall down an inescapable Instagram rabbit hole. According to a Rescue Time article, phones act as a security blanket. Whenever someone is feeling stressed or overworked, technology is the first thing they can turn to. Unfortunately, it creates a negative domino effect.
The blue light from screens causes immense strain on the eyes, affects the circadian rhythm, a natural process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and can even lead to long-lasting issues like diabetes and heart disease, according to Harvard Health. At night, these blue light effects are magnified as the darkness puts more of a strain on the eyes and can disrupt sleep patterns. The disrupted sleep patterns can lead to low energy levels and unproductiveness the following day resulting in even more unnecessary screen time. This is where the blue light and energy level domino effect occurs.
On top of these symptoms, struggles with mental health can start to occur. The lack of sleep that blue light can cause, coupled with the harmful effects of social media, can create serious damage to mental health. Comparing oneself to others on Instagram, playing violent video games and spending hours on a computer doing homework can all have a negative effect on someone’s mental health. While social media does contribute to many positive aspects of life, there is still a negative byproduct that ultimately affects day-to-day life.
Digital detoxing is the trend that soon might be grouped within the juice cleanse and liver detox community. Incorporating monthly, weekly or daily digital detoxes into a person’s life is an amazing way to reduce the negative effects screen time generates. Setting time aside during the day to leave the phone in the other room or taking some time off social media, can help to minimize the symptoms of too much screen time. The time away can be a great way to set goals that don’t involve technology, like reading a new book every month or incorporating a new self-care routine.
It turns out, limiting the amount of screen time is easier than one might think. Here’s a list to start:
1. Read a hard copy book instead of Netflix before bed.
Grab a new bestseller or an old novel and get entertainment the “old-fashion” way. This will counter the potential headaches from television or computer screens.
2. Go out with friends instead of scrolling on Instagram
It happens to all of us. The deep, dark Instagram void sucks us in. Let’s be honest, it’s entertaining, but it benefits us in no way, shape or form. Going on a walk with a friend or having dinner with a group allows you to spend some quality time with real-life people. It definitely beats the FOMO we get from social media.
3. Journal after waking up instead of checking notifications
This can take some getting used to. Our phones are usually the first thing we reach for immediately after our eyes open. Try a day or two of a new routine. Wake up, stare at the walls to wake up your brain, write something down in a notebook that you’re grateful for and then check your phone. There are much better things to wake up to than the harsh blue light on your phone.
4. Put the phone down an hour before bed
There may be a theory out there that scrolling through our phones helps us to fall asleep. That might be true for some, but, in most cases, it can be detrimental. Because blue light is bad for our circadian rhythm, it would be a much more conscientious choice to drink herbal tea, read a book or dive into your skincare routine. Say goodnight to your partner or parent a little earlier. I promise they won’t know you’re still awake.