50 Ways to Stay Well #29- Limit Screen Time

Just say no to “Netflix and Chill.” It’s the last month of summer so why not set a goal to limit your leisure screen time? Not much we can do about phones and computers at work, but at home opt to bust out a book, board games, or deck of cards for evening entertainment.

Health experts say screen time at home should be limited to two hours or less a day. The time we spend in front of the screen, unless it’s work- or homework-related, could be better spent being more physically active (increasing our energy out).

A 2016 Nielsen Company audience report revealed that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media. Is it a wonder stress is an epidemic? That’s a lot of information to process in one day.

Our addiction to screens is effecting sleep due to cognitive stimulation and sleep deprivation. We’ve all heard about the effects that the blue light emitted from TV’s, computers, and phones has on our melatonin levels.

There are plenty of studies that show the benefits of limiting children’s screen time but we need to think about adults doing the same as well.

Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology at Iowa State University said, “The work week still takes up 40 of those hours, sleep at seven hours a night is 49, and if we assume all personal care — such as eating, bathing, dressing, preparing food — is three hours a day, then we have 58 hours a week left over for all other things.

This includes hobbies, sports, spending time with children, spending time with friends and romantic partners, reading, learning, exercise, participating in a faith community, volunteer work, house maintenance,” he added. “If people are spending over 50 hours a week with media for entertainment purposes, then there’s really no time left for any of the other things we value.”

So how do you start?

Talk to Your Family – Explain why it’s important to step away and to get out and enjoy the weather. If it’s too hot to play outside, bust out a board game and play until it cools down.

Set Screen Time Limits – Create a house rule that limits screen time to two hours every day.

Set a Good Example – The whole family has to obey the rules. Don’t tell your family you have a one hour limit and then be scrolling through your Facebook on the sly.

Make Screen Time = Active Time – When you do spend time in front of the screen, do something active. Stretch, do yoga and/or lift weights..

Create Screen-free Bedrooms – Don’t put a TV or computer in any bedrooms.

Make Meal Time = Family Time – Turn off the TV during meals and talk to each other.

Provide Other Options – Create a list of all the things you could do rather than watch TV or scroll through social media on your phone. Watching TV can become a habit, making it easy to forget what else is out there so stick this list on your fridge where it’s easily accessible.

Resources

Lethbridge and Area Events Calendar  (Explore Southwest Alberta)

ParticipACTION 150 Playlist

Articles

Americans devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time, and growing (CNN)

Tips to Reduce Screen Time (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Effects Of Screen Time On Adult Sleep (HuffPost)

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