Been to a bar recently? On a train? To a sporting event? On a date? What are the people around you doing? Are they speaking and engaging with one another? Do they seem aware and present in the moment or perhaps, stuck to a screen in another moment in another place? Unfortunately, wherever we go, this seems to be the trend amongst not only teens and young adults but mature adults, too. Locked to a screen, stuck somewhere and anywhere else than where we are. Of course, there is the larger issue of feeling like we’ve lost our ability to be personable and conversational with one another but there is also our health to think about.

While “too much screen time” seems like a silly health problem to have, its increased popularity is demonstrating its increased danger. In children, the risks of too much screen time are far more dangerous than those for adults but the danger exists either way. While there isn’t tons of research on the negative effects of screen time on adults, all we’ve got to do is listen to our bodies. For instance, if you sleep with a TV in your room, do you feel as though you sometimes don’t feel as well rested as you could or should? Well, think about the ways in which your body naturally responds to light and sound; with attention and caution. It’s very much like the fight or flight concept. If your body didn’t naturally respond to light or sound, what would occur in moments of chaos or panic? Hopefully, nothing too bad. The point is though, that things like this (an excess of screen time) have a real and natural bodily effect. If there is light and sound in the room, your body is naturally being told to “wake up, wake up, and stay awake.” The same is true for all the other times you choose to use your phone, laptop, tablet, e-reader or game console (perhaps in exchange for some real people time).

When you spend time texting and tweeting, your neck (which is already about 9 to 12 pounds) not only feels strain, but also develops a hunch leading to poor posture, misalignment in your spine and back and other head and neck issues. When we spend time sitting at the TV, we lose time exercising which may cause us to gain weight, eat in a more mindless manner and/or keep us stagnant in a bustling and fun world! While these examples are important from a health perspective, we also cannot forget the ideological and cultural impacts of excessive screen time. While Google is a wonderful and glorious technology, it’s readiness at the touch of a button tends to keep us from innovating, thinking and creating for ourselves. When’s the last time you used an actual dictionary to look up a word? Or, sat down to read an actual book made of paper and paste? Or, took a class at Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s instead of Pinning? For many of us, it has been years! And, this is okay. However, it’s clear that our bodies are not the only thing that suffers when we choose our on screen realities over those in front of us! Your mind, just like your muscles, must be exercised and challenged. Lessening your screen time is a great way to stay both physically and mentally sharp.

If you’re looking to be more present, here are a few tips Just Be recommends for cutting down your screen time:

  1. Don’t bring your electronics into the bathroom with you. You don’t need them in there anyway!
  2. Make a genuine effort to CALL your friends and/or family when you know you could just text them. Try to do this two or three times a week.
  3. Don’t be afraid to spend time alone (or with friends) and keep your phone in the middle of the table, in your pocket or in your car.  (Here’s a fun idea: If you make a commitment with a group of friends while out, make a game of it. The first person to text or look at their phone buys a round of drinks!)
  4. Try writing instead! Pen pals and love letters are a lost art. Reconnect with a distant family member or friend via the good old written word. We can pretty much guarantee that your grandmother or grandfather would be up for it.

 

Whatever you do, choose to stay in the moment. Choose to converse and create, you might surprise yourself!