According to 2021 surveys, worldwide, the average person spends approximately six hours and 55 minutes each day looking at a screen. And while most of us are more reliant on technology than ever these days, screen staring is becoming a huge problem that needs some serious reigning in.
Why? Because staring at screens for multiple hours a day isn’t exactly great for mental or physical health. Researchers have found that the more time we spend staring at screens, the lower our measures of psychological well-being become. And blue screens — the type you find on smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. — can be especially harmful.
These screens emit a light spectrum that has been linked to several health issues, including eyestrain, macular degeneration, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and even hormone issues. And while it’s remarkably easy to get addicted to tech, screen dependency is one addiction that can also be fairly simple to break.
Ready to reign in your and your family’s tech usage in 2022? Continue reading for tips on setting tech boundaries that’ll help you and yours battle blue screen fatigue in the coming year.
Give Your Children a Phone For Kids
Every kid wants a phone these days. And while it’s never a bad idea to have a reliable way to contact your child, giving your kid a smartphone probably isn’t the best choice. Researchers have found that when young children routinely use smartphones, several undesirable consequences can result.
Kids can become less social, less creative, less able to pay attention, and even less emotionally stable when they routinely stare at screens. They can also get less sleep, develop screen addictions, and worst of all, be exposed to inappropriate and potentially dangerous digital content.
That’s why developmental experts recommend waiting to give your kids a smartphone until they’re at least 10 years old. What should you give them instead? A non-internet-capable phone for kids. Unlike a smartphone, a specialized phone for kids cannot access digital content. This type of phone is capable of making calls, sending texts, and taking photos — it can’t do anything else.
If you have young children and want to help them develop healthy screen time habits as they age, giving them a kid-specific phone is an excellent way to start.
Consider Setting Time Limits for Screen Time
If you’re looking to help your whole family limit screen time in 2022, setting time limits on tech usage is one hard-and-fast way you can make that happen. Whether you’re looking to limit everyone’s TV, tablet, computer, or phone time, decide what an appropriate amount of usage looks like and stick to that number.
As a family, sit down and have a discussion about why you’re working to limit screen time and how important it is for everyone’s mental and physical well-being. When you take the time to get everyone on the same page, you can all work together to help each other stick to the plan.
Set a Bedtime for Phones
Do you head to bed with your phone? Do you lose track of time scrolling while you lie awake in the dark? Do you tend to reach for that screen if you wake during the night? Then it’s probably in your best interest to put your phone to bed in another room before you go to sleep. And if anyone else in your family takes their phone to bed, too, the same idea applies.
Why? Because staring at a blue screen just before bed has terrible consequences for sleep quality. Blue light limits your body’s production of melatonin (your sleep hormone), and when you’re not producing enough of that hormone, you’ll have trouble falling asleep and getting a good night’s rest.
To ensure everyone in your home gets the uninterrupted, quality sleep they need, consider making a no-phones-in-the-bedroom rule. Designate a neutral place in the house where everyone can charge their phones during the night. Ideally, you’ll want to have everyone put their phones to bed about two hours before it’s time to sleep.
Limiting blue light exposure two to three hours before bed allows your brain to ramp up melatonin production. Giving your body time to prepare itself for sleep will allow you to fall asleep easier and get the deep, restorative rest you need to thrive.
Designate a Weekly Digital Detox Day
Spending several hours a day immersed in the digital world isn’t great for anyone’s mental or physical health. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to consciously pull your mind away from the screen and your tush away from the couch. Engaging in weekly tech breaks is a great way to do that.
As a family, choose one day during the week on which you’ll all avoid screens altogether. Have everyone turn their devices off and put them in a drawer or somewhere out of sight. Don’t turn those devices on again until the next day. If an inability to connect for 24 hours makes you anxious, prepare yourself in advance.
Print out any maps you might need, as well as any phone numbers or schedules you may need access to. Inform people you won’t be digitally available on that day, and then, use your tech-free 24 hours to enjoy yourself. Plan a family activity, go for a hike, read a book, take up a hobby — use that day to be fully present and focused on the moment at hand.
Chances are you’ll feel refreshed and recharged when you finally turn those screens back on.
With our ever-growing reliance on technology, blue screen fatigue will continue to be a growing global problem. But when you’re able to recognize that you and yours have a screen addiction, you’re able to take steps to battle that addiction, too. If you value your family’s health, take the time to set healthy screen-use boundaries for yourself and your loved ones. When you do, you’ll be taking a huge step toward improving your whole family’s mental and physical well-being.