Decrease Screen Time to Increase Mental Health

 

Do you (and your family) get too much screen time?

 

Do you feel that it may be turning into an addiction of sorts?

 

If so, you’re not alone.

 

“Screen time” is the term used to describe spending countless hours staring at phones, iPads, laptops, and other gadgets. And yes, it can become a habit that’s hard to break. It can also have lasting effects on your brain and your children’s brains and development.

 

In her book Reversing Dyslexia, Dr. Phyllis Books, founder of Books Neural Therapy™, states that “when you engage with computers and other electronic gadgets for hours on end, certain areas of your brain are being overexercised to the detriment of others.”

 

As Dr. Books explains it, the processing speed of our electronics is a concern. “When a person interacts with these media, things happen at a much faster pace than in real life.

 

A slew of information enters the brain quickly and passively, leading to a lack of proper integration… people often enjoy the feeling these fast-paced scenes produce and begin to acquire a need for this lightning pace. Before long, they find slower actions boring.”

 

It truly can be a problem, and if it progresses too far, it does have a name: technology addiction. During one study of screen time, University of Glasgow researchers found that half the participants checked their email once an hour and some checked it up to 40 times an hour.

 

An AOL study showed that 83 percent of the participants check email every day on vacation. A Time Magazine survey in 2012 showed that 84% of us couldn’t go one day without our smartphones. Seventy-five percent of adults aged 25 to 29 sleep with their phones.

 

Our children are on track to being more addicted to electronics than we are, using technology eight to ten hours a day, while the American Academy of Pediatrics advises two hours a day as the maximum.

 

Parents use technology as a babysitter for small children. One of the most shocking statistics we’ve seen: according to Nielsen, the average teen sends 3,339 texts per month. One can only assume that the average teen also receives over 3,000 texts per month.

 

This is far too much stress and excessive stimulation for our children to deal with.

We get plenty of screen time—in fact, we’re on our phones entirely too much.

To decrease screen time, it’s necessary to move the electronics from you and put them away. We advise our patients to do the following:

 

  • While at home, keep gadgets in an inconvenient area, such as the trunk of the car or on a different floor of the house.

 

  • Leave the gadgets at home and go for a drive, have dinner out, go to a movie or sporting event, or simply sit outside and talk.

 

  • Ban cell phones during meals.

 

  • Go for a walk after dinner without phones.

 

  • Put electronics away for the night at least 90 minutes before bed, and don’t charge them in the bedroom while sleeping.
  • Simply turn them off and leave them off for a specified period.

 

  • One day a week, spend the entire day with family or friends without your phone. Take a “technology holiday.”

 

  • Do not allow children under age two to use technology, and limit the time older children use their technology. Encourage them to play with toys that help develop their fine and gross motor skills, such as dolls, puzzles, and Legos.

 

Decreasing your family’s screen time is a vital step to maintain relationships and stay in touch with each other. No screen can take the place of face-to-face time, and no email or Facebook message should come before time with those you love.

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