10 Jul, 2019

How do we keep media from taking over our lives?

It’s no secret that more screen time is associated with poor physical and emotional health. Studies on obesity, depression, anxiety, and even spine problems (ever heard of Text Neck?) are showing links between screen time and increased health issues. The Washington Post reported a study finding that the happiest teens get a small amount of exposure to screen time, between one and five hours a week and the least happy teens used screens for 20 or more hours a week. According to the study, “the happiest teens are those who are above average in face-to-face social interaction time and below average in social media use.”

Screens aren’t always bad, but it can be really easy to let the internet control our lives, so much so that we don’t make time for real people and taking care of ourselves. Don’t fear, it’s never too late to make changes! We have the freedom to create our own digital boundaries. Decide today what changes you want to make to be a healthier you.

6 Easy Digital Boundaries

Consider adding digital boundaries that help you stay present in reality:

  • Turn off push notifications. We have way less pull to unlock the phone if there’s no little reminders calling our names. Try deciding on a window of time when it’s okay to check in on any social media accounts, and leave it at that.
  • Limit the people you friend/like/follow online. This will cut down on all the noise in your newsfeed. Who needs to know what our lab partner from two years ago that we’re not really close with did over spring break?
  • Don’t use immediately when you wake up or right before you go to bed. Not only can screen use around bedtime mess with our sleep cycle, it’s also not the most relaxing way to start the day. Instead of refreshing our newsfeed again, we could take time to think through what we’re thankful for that day or journal about a struggle we had.
  • Get a real alarm clock. This will help us with the previous step. Having a real alarm clock instead of our phones keeps the urge to scroll at bay.
  • Write real paper notes to yourself (planner, things to remember). You can even treat yourself with cool pens in your favorite colors, fun stickers, and crazy-shaped notepads.
  • Check out apps that help you monitor screen time, like Stay Focused or Cold Turkey or Screen Time on iOS. These apps show us just how much time we’re spending on our devices and motivate us to get out in the real world.

Discover your passions!

The less time we spend on screens, the more time we get to spend learning who we are and building awesome skills. What new things could you learn about yourself this week just by cutting out some media time?

  • Read a book…on real paper!
  • Try a new sport
  • Start a journal
  • Write, act, and direct your own play with your friends
  • Host a cooking competition in your kitchen
  • Sit down with a mentor and learn about their life
  • Create your own mad libs
  • Learn a new instrument
  • Have a board game tournament
  • Stargaze
  • Volunteer with a cause you care about
  • Try your hand at woodworking, metalworking, knitting, or some other craft

These are just a handful of things to get us out in the real world and making memories that will stick with us longer than another hour on YouTube or Fortnite.

We owe it to ourselves to live fully. Let’s challenge each other to seek out real conversations with the real people we care about.

By Kath Crane