3 Ways to Take Smarter Screen Breaks This Year
Thanks to Covid, despite all our best intentions we’re all spending hours every day online, which means we can’t do a digital detox in the same way we could have before: we need to take smarter screen breaks.
Around the time of the first UK lockdown, 2000 Brits were surveyed and over 55% of them reported they were concerned about their rise in tech use. However, it’s now been nearly a year since the pandemic struck and little has changed. We can no longer wait until restrictions are lifted before we make meaningful changes in our relationship with technology. We know that every 30 mins of screen time for toddlers is linked to a nearly 50% increase in expressive speech delay, and even in adults, excessive screen use can damage the brain! We’re now nearly all working from home, or being educated from home, so we need to learn how to take smarter screen breaks in order to balance the necessity of screens in the pandemic with our mental and physical wellbeing.
#1 Protect your sleep
One of the most damaging impacts that excessive screen use has is on sleep with a definitive link having been found between increased time spent on tech during the day and decreased quality and quantity of sleep at night. So, one of the ways that you can take smarter screen breaks this year is by limiting your phone use around bed times and in the bedroom. We have written a lot about this in the past because we feel so passionately about protecting that time. There are many ways to go about this, you could leave your phone outside of the bedroom, institute a ‘bed time’ for your phone, or commit to not going on your phone until you have had breakfast. Whatever strategy you choose, will enable you to be spend significantly shorter periods of time online, and, crucially, protect your sleep.
#2 Relax offline
Another area of your life primed for smarter screen breaks is that of relaxation and entertainment. During lockdown 50% of people admitted that they were watching significantly more TV, combined with working remotely and attending online school, this adds up to a large increase in screen time: we are spending all of our working days online and then relaxing in our breaks by watching TV, or even just videos on social media. So, in order to cut down on the amount of time we spend online we recommend you try to limit entertainment and relaxation to offline activities as much as possible. You could try puzzling, board games, charades, reading or even just listening to the radio or a podcast. All of these will enable you to unwind away from screens.
#3 Tie screen breaks to your schedule
If you’re still struggling to take smarter screen breaks then we would recommend a good habit hack of tying those breaks to pre-existing parts of your routine. For example, you could decide that when you have your lunch break you leave your phone where you work and instead be mindful of what you eat, or you could leave your phone behind for your daily exercise. You could even ban it from certain rooms of the house (such as the kitchen and bedroom) so that there are physical boundaries to help you enforce your routine-based boundaries.
Bonus: You can even use the settings in your phone to help you- in most smartphones there is now the option to set time-limits for certain apps or for times of day, meaning that the phone will prompt you to turn it off.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in all areas of our lives, not least our relationships with technology, but we hope that these tips will enable you to take smarter screen breaks in 2021 and rebalance your relationship with the digital world.