The technological advances of the past few decades have impacted our lives in more ways than we can count. They’ve simplified the way we communicate, given us access to an endless supply of information and provided us with entertainment at our fingertips. While many of these advancements have been positive, one of the more controversial downsides has been an increase in screentime for kids and adults alike.
Screen time, especially during the more unstructured summer months, can be a challenge for many families – bringing up questions such as ‘How much is too much?’ or ‘How is this impacting my (or my child’s) mental health?’ Let's dive into the relationship between screen time and overall wellness. We'll focus on the significance of creating and maintaining strong routines in all seasons and providing tangible tips on how to create healthy habits that promote a balanced lifestyle.
Research has consistently shown that excessive screen time can have detrimental effects on our wellness. A study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports found that higher levels of screen time were associated with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety among young adults (Twenge et al., 2018). The constant exposure to social media, virtual worlds, and the pressure to constantly be connected can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and isolation.
Additionally, research has shown that high levels of screen time can disrupt our sleep patterns, leading to fatigue and further exacerbating mental health issues. The blue light emitted by screens can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, making it more difficult to fall asleep and achieve restful sleep (Chang et al., 2015).
The question of how much screen time is considered "too much" is a common concern. While there isn't a specific universally defined threshold, it is generally recommended to limit screen time to ensure a healthy balance in our lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides guidelines suggesting a consistent limit (key word: consistent!) for older children and teenagers, taking into consideration their developmental stage and individual needs. However, it's important to recognize that the impact of screen time on mental health varies from person to person. Factors such as the content consumed, the quality of interactions, and the overall balance between screen activities and other aspects of life all play a role in determining the effects of screen time.
Picture this: you wake up in the morning, grab your phone, and within minutes, you're sucked into the never-ending scroll of social media. Before you know it, hours have passed, and your carefully planned morning routine has gone out the window. Sound familiar?
It's no secret that screen time and routines have a tricky relationship. On one hand, screens can be a major distraction, throwing off our carefully crafted schedules. But on the other hand, routines can actually help us manage our screen time. By establishing consistent habits and setting boundaries, we can regain control over our days and ensure that screens don't hijack our lives. So, whether it's designating specific times for screen use or integrating screen-free activities into our routines, finding a balance between our digital world and the structure of our everyday lives is key.
With flexibility in our summer schedules, now is a great time to build positive habits in your life. Let’s identify some tangible tips for finding balance between screens and your overall wellness.
As technology continues to become more and more integrated in our lives, it's crucial to maintain a healthy balance between screen time and other activities in support of our mental well-being. This summer is a great time to start the process of setting appropriate limits, prioritizing physical activity and mindfulness, and building strong routines.
By being mindful and intentional with screen time, we can nurture our mental health, create lasting memories, and embrace the joys of the present moment.
Want to get clear and intentional with screen time in your life this summer? Download this resource for journaling prompts and a daily planner to help you set limits and achieve your goals.