These days, we’re all spending too much time staring at screens. Between remote work, virtual school, video games and a plethora of streaming options, adults and children alike find themselves perpetually connected and endlessly entertained. It’s great — until it’s not.
Looking at screens all day can be taxing on your eyes and mind. What’s more, the inactivity associated with excessive screens can leave you sluggish and sedentary. Basically, it’s time to put down the cell phone, turn off the TV and motivate.
Easier said than done? We hear you. It’s hard not to rely on screens all day, every day. But a few small routine changes and priority shifts can make a huge difference. Ready to tackle the challenge? Here’s how to reduce screen time every day.
How much screen time is too much?
Too much of a good thing? It’s definitely possible when it comes to screen time. And while you, your kids and the experts might disagree, the answer to the question “How much screen time is too much?” is it depends.
The so-called rules have grown a bit murky. While many experts (and the American Academy of Pediatrics) recommend a two hour limit for young kids, other professionals have acknowledged that there should be some flexibility to this advice; after all, screens can be used for good – reading, writing and learning. Still, we know that many kids (and adults) spend more than seven hours a day on devices, and that’s no good, either.
5 Tips to Reduce Screen Time
Moderation is Key
Moderation is key, and balance makes this mission sustainable. If your kids veg out with YouTube one day, go for a family hike the next. If they’re going to spend hours playing solo video games in the morning, try bonding over board games in the afternoon. If you are sucked into work emails all week, put your phone away on weekends. Try to keep the screen time in check, but show yourself — and your family — some grace.
Set an Alarm/ Limits
If you find yourself sucked into Instagram mindlessly scrolling through photos, set a time limit on the app on your phone. If your kids play video games without coming up for air, employ parental guidelines (most consoles allow you to oversee and set limits). There are real tools and technology you can use to break the screen time.
Employ schedule-blocking strategies and actual alarms to allocate pockets of time for tech checks and screen usage. Eventually, you may not need audible reminders, but, for now, they will just help you reign in your nonstop need for your devices. While you’re at it, turn off notifications on your phone. That tempting ding of a text message shouldn’t have the power to pull you away from living your life.
Go Old School
If you or your kids read on a tablet, try returning to traditional paper books for some time. While we love the convenience of downloading our next read, holding an actual novel is a simple and tactical way to completely eliminate another unnecessary screen from your daily life.
Embrace Working Hours
Noaways, we’re available 24/7, and this can feed our need for screens. But being “on” and perpetually connected isn’t doing you or anyone else any favors. Establish boundaries and create working hours for yourself. For example, if you can avoid checking your email after 6 PM, do it. Bonus: You’ll be even sharper the next morning when you write a response.
What’s more, establish screen-free hours at home. A good place to start? No phones, laptops, or TV during dinner. Disconnect to reconnect, and your whole family will be grateful.
Put the Cell Phone to Bed
Stop using your cell phone as your night light and alarm clock. Your mobile needs to take the night off, so that you’re not tempted to check it during bouts of insomnia or when you get up to use the bathroom. Shut it down, put it away and make sure it’s not the last thing you check at night and the first thing you look at in the morning.
Screens can make our lives so much easier. But they don’t need to be a part of our every waking moment. You have actual people in front of you who want to connect in real life — embrace this truth, and you will find that the screens can wait after all.
Lauren is a digital editor, freelance writer, and Instagram aficionado with a feisty five-year-old boy and a sassy two-year-old diva at home. With a passion for family, travel, style, and alliteration, she spends her days chasing children, chugging coffee, and daydreaming about sleep. As a veteran lifestyle editor and media mom, Lauren loves to find ways to make the aspirational attainable for all the overwhelmed parents out there—because we really need to stick together! Lauren lives with her husband and kiddos in the suburbs of New York City.