Healthy Screen Habits
We often tend to think that its “kids today” who are addicted to screens. But this is as equally true for adults as well as younger generations. Therefore, our relationship with our screens and social media platforms should be viewed, reflected upon and nurtured just like any other relationship we have, or any other activity that shapes our physical, emotional or psychological well being. As adults, we should model the kind of screen use habits and behaviour we want our kids to follow.
We understand, life is busy. We’re never out of the office, there’s always someone to wish Happy Birthday to on Facebook as well as all those cute dogs to love at on Insta. However, being conscious about screen use, and forming good habits, are key. Why? Because they directly shape our children’s screen habits. They are watching closely and will almost certainly mirror how we use our screen.
Healthy screen use is about what we use our screens for, when we choose to use them, and how much time we spend using them. It’s also about blending a healthy mix of work, social, leisure and digital activities into our lives.
Our screen use choices can have positive influences on our children’s attitudes to screens. They will develop healthy screen use habits when they see us and their other key role models using screens in healthy, balanced ways.
We can have this kind of influence by allocating regular, screen-free time for our personal and family activities. This sends our children powerful messages:
- There are many ways to entertain yourself, relax and have fun – not all of them involve screens.
- Family time is one of the most important ways to spend time.
- People and relationships are more important than images and videos on screens.
To grow and thrive, our children need engaging and responsive interactions with their parents. Screens often get in the way of these kinds of exchanges – for example, if parents interrupt conversations with children to check text messages. We should put our devices aside and really focus on what’s most important.
In 2021, social media addiction is a thing. Yep. Its a thing. Perhaps the most worrying thing about it though, is that most people are in denial, or have succumbed to and accepted the idea that its ok for their lives to be dictated to by people in Silicon Valley who design the algorithms that make up our news feeds and have us scrolling aimlessly and endlessly. Most research states that on average, people are on social media for between 2 and 3 hours per day. That’s. A. Lot. 30 minutes per day is considered optimal for mental health.
However, there are several things that can be done to help quickly and effectively reduce time spent on social media. See our tips below:
Disable notifications from social media: Most people check into social media mindlessly, so put a small barrier in the way by turning off notifications. If you don’t see a social media icon or alert every time you pick up your phone, you’re less likely to spend time there.
Set limits and stick to them. Most phones and tablets allow you to see the time you’ve spent on certain apps. Set a limit for your time spent on social media and stick to it, or use an app that blocks social media after you’ve hit your limit. For children, the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that social media use not interfere with activities like family meals, exercise, or “unplugged downtime.”
Delete Social Media Accounts You Don’t Use. Digitally declutter your life!
Go Cold Turkey. Depending on how bad things have gotten, it might be time to go cold turkey. If you’re spending more time on social media than you are interacting with people in real life, give yourself a reality check by having a holiday from social media. Decide how long it’s going to be, inform your friends online how long you’ll be away and how they can reach you if they need you in person, and delete your apps. If you normally spend two hours on social media per day, you will have an extra fourteen hours per week which are totally free to do whatever you want with – let the world be your your wifi-free oyster!