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How Does Screen Time Impact the Brain?

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Ever since the COVID-19 Pandemic, excessive screen time use has become a more and more prominent issue. And, while screen time has its uses, it also has a strong negative impact on the brain.

Just a few of the poor outcomes of screen time are psychological problems, poor coping skills, and a higher risk of depression or anxiety. This is why it’s important to follow recommended screen time and not just let yourself run wild.

Did you know that the average American spends seven hours and four minutes per day on a screen? A majority of this time is spent on cell phones, for social media.

Ever since the COVID-19 Pandemic, excessive screen time use has become a more and more prominent issue. And, while screen time has its uses, it also has a strong negative impact on the brain.

Just a few of the poor outcomes of screen time are psychological problems, poor coping skills, and a higher risk of depression or anxiety. This is why it’s important to follow recommended screen time and not just let yourself run wild.

What Is the Recommended Screen Time?

Figuring out accurate screen time recommendations by age can be difficult. In this screen-oriented world of ours, figuring out how much screen time is too much is even trickier.

Odds are that you’ve greatly overestimated the amount of screen time per day you should be getting. Fortunately, medical professionals have come to an agreement about the recommended screen time.

For infants younger than eighteen months, no screens should be used except when video chatting with family. From eighteen months to two years, it’s recommended that screen time be limited to strictly educational videos with the caregiver present.

Ages two to five are allowed screen time for the purpose of entertainment for up to one hour. From ages six and up, you should aim to spend no more than two hours a day on screens.

Be Aware of Your Screen Time

When using screen time, it is easy for you to get sucked into what you are doing and lose track of time on your phone or laptop. It is important that you don’t let this happen.

Do your best to be more aware of the time you spend on a screen. Note when you start using it and when you stop.

Something else good to pay attention to is how often you use a screen- the odds are good that you pick up your phone a great many times more than you realize.

Screen Time and the Workplace

Unfortunately, so much business is conducted on screens in a day that it’s almost impossible to stick to the two-hour limit. However, there are still things you can do even in the workplace to reduce your screen time.

For example, when you take your allotted break, don’t go from staring at a work screen to staring at your phone. Do something like bring a physical book along so that you’ve got an alternative.

Something else available to you is to limit the number of tasks that absolutely need to be done digitally. Brainstorm and make to do lists on paper, use a physical calendar instead of an online one. Build-in time to step away from the screen and stretch or go refill your water bottle.

Lastly, you should consider getting yourself blue light glasses to wear when using a screen. These glasses protect you from harmful light emitted by screens that, among other things, disrupt your sleep schedule.

Screen Time Alternatives

When trying to cut down on the amount of screen time you have per day, you may end up feeling as if there is nothing to do because of how much time you spend on screens otherwise.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options for you. If you’re able to, try and get outside and go for a walk. Go to your local park.

If you can’t go outside, you could always pick up some type of indoor hobby. For example, you could learn how to draw or purchase a paint-by-the-numbers kit.

When you go to sleep, don’t get on your phone before bed even if it’s tempting. Instead, keep a book to read by your bedside table. Then you can read until you’re ready to sleep.

Finally, try to make your time on screens productive. For example, you could register for an online class.

Screen Time Effects

Although we needed to be able to use screens during the pandemic, the rise in how much we use them has been detrimental to everyone.

When you don’t bother to regulate your screen time, a myriad of negative consequences can result from this. One of the negative screen time effects is low emotional stability, often paired with a greater risk for anxiety and depression.

Something you may not have known is that screen time can actually be addictive- it activates the part of your brain searching for a variable award. This is the same part of your brain that is activated in people who end up addicted to gambling or slot machines.

In addition, too much screen time can disrupt your sleep schedule by suppressing your body’s ability to naturally produce melatonin. A lack of sleep can lead to all sorts of nasty outcomes such as increased irritability or a heightened emotional response.

Even more shocking, the amount of time you spend on a screen can physically change your brain. People who spend more time on screens have a thinner outer brain layer than people who avoid screen time. In addition, people who are on screens more often tend to have more difficulty focusing.

Book a Free Consultation

Now that you’ve learned more about recommended screen time and how to cut down on excess, it’s time for you to take the next step. If you want to help your employees further, you should look at some of the many classes we offer.

If you don’t know what class would be best, that’s okay! You can book a free consultation with one of our wellness experts to figure it out.

That’s what we’re here for!