It’s no secret that the majority of the population worldwide owns a smartphone. Kids as young as 6 years old spend a lot of time with their noses pressed onto screens. They call it “screentime.”
In 2020, there are 3.5 billion smartphone users around the world. (Source: Statista)
But here’s the million-dollar question: has screentime really destroyed our population?
Gone are the days when you pay close attention to each other during a date or a casual lunch out with friends and family.
As we progress towards technology, we are subconsciously going two steps back on mental health, relationships, work productivity, and more.
We can all agree that our phones help us streamline our tasks, our schedules, it keeps us up to date with the current news or trends and makes us stay in touch with the community.
But the thing is, while we keep in touch with people we know online, what happens when we meet these people we talk to online in person? We still use our phones.
And there’s more…
In this article, we are going to discuss the several effects of too much screen time on your relationships, productivity, mental health and what you can do to lessen your screen time.
Screen time effects on relationships
When you go on a date with your partner, was there ever a time when you don’t glance at your phones? Or are you both too eager to take a selfie or to take a photo of your food?
There’s actually a term for it, it’s called “phubbing.” Phubbing not paying attention to your real-life company because you were too busy on your phone.
According to a study,“Phubbing was found to have a negative impact on relationship satisfaction.”
It limits the quality of time of our real-life interactions. And in addition to that, our attention is always lacking, we can spend hours with our families and friends but WE ARE STILL NOT PRESENT.
Our cell phone notifications often pop up disrupting our focus and interrupting our conversations.
And that’s not all. The fear of missing out (FOMO) on what’s happening in our social media feed causes us to neglect what is right in front of us. This affects marriages, friendships, and all of our relationships.
Screen time effects on mental health
Studies suggest that an hour a day or more of cell phone use is associated with lower psychological well-being, less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, and decreased sleep.
One reason why it disrupts healthy sleep patterns is that the light emitted by your smartphone mimics the effect of sunlight, tricking your brain and disrupting your circadian rhythm. As a result, it hinders the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
In addition, another study shows that there is a correlation between screen time and feelings of loneliness.
Here’s something you probably don’t know about…
Screen time offers an escape to your daily challenges in real-life. It feeds you dopamine every time you see a new notification or when there’s something new on your feed.
Screen time deceives your brain with a false sense of fulfillment as if you’re scoring in a game.
Being online makes you think you are connected. But in reality, you are sitting alone in your room or in a cafe – questioning your self-esteem and comparing your life from the exciting lives of influencers on social media.
Screen time effects on work productivity
In this day and age, it’s a challenge to stay away from emails, chat notifications, and screens especially when you need them in your job.
When working, you are often required to stay “deeply focused.” When your phone is near you, it can be difficult.
By looking at your phone or even glancing at it, FOMO kicks in and you can give in more easily to procrastination. You may say to yourself, “The deadline’s tomorrow, so I still have time to spare.”
As a result, you will end up with rushed work that is subpar quality because you thought you had more time than you actually do and you used your worktime messing with your phone.
As mentioned above, wasting time on your phone will give you a false sense of fulfillment. That’s what dopamine does.
What you can do
Personally, I use the Pomodoro Technique. My “deep focus mode” is divided into 25-minute blocks with 5-minute breaks. After I downloaded a timer app on my phone, it was the most productive 25 minutes of my life.
You can do whatever you want in those 5-minute breaks: play with your cat, grab a coffee, and yes, check your phone. And you won’t feel guilty. After the 5-minute break, you go back to the 25-minute deep focus mode.
What you can do to control your screen time and save your relationships including your sanity
“It’s all about self-control.”
- Decide how much time you want to spend in front of your screens.
- You can actually set a timer on apps like Facebook and it will remind you when your time is up.
I am actually doing this, starting with 2 hours, then 1 hour and 30 minutes, then lesser. It turns out, I can control my screentime! So can you.
- Find other things to do that do not involve screentime:
For example, participate in sports and do it with your partner so you can bond, too.
- Commit to your screentime limitations. It’s easy to set a timer but dig into your WHY. Why are you doing this? What for?
- Make a daily schedule and allot a “screen time only” period.
By doing this, you can let your curiosity out of your system and later in the day, you won’t have to.
- When you have a date with your partner or your friends,
If you must really look at your phones, you can agree to allot screen time for a few minutes. Then, you can put away your phones.
- Use the Freedom app
- The Freedom app will help you control your relationship with tech.
Freedom app is a computer program to keep a computer user away from the Internet for up to eight hours at a time.
It is described as a way to “free you from distractions, allowing you time to write, analyze, code, or create.” Wikipedia
At the end of the day, it will all be up to you. If you have difficulties breaking free, you can start gradually until you will eventually have a healthier relationship with your gadgets.