How many times have you found yourself or the people around you comparing today’s time with what life was like a decade ago? When I close my eyes and try to recreate a picture from about 15 years ago, I can picture people playing in the field, running races, skipping, contesting in pithoo, and so much more. Many joyful memories from these many years ago tend to bring a smile to my face. Screen Time and obsession with technology or gadgets wasn’t something that anyone really had to worry about at the time.
But it’s the other way around today. From playing Minecraft to watching animated YouTube videos, today’s generation seems to have lived a little and breathed a lot. People of all age groups today are technologically integrated with some or the other form of gadgets. While technology has its own merits; it is the demerits and the consequences that technology brings to the table that make us worry.
In the 21st century, leading a tech-free life is almost impossible and something that is not very reasonable to expect out of anyone either. With this pandemic raging through the world, the need for sitting in front of a screen has only accelerated. Let me ask you this: How many hours daily do you find yourself stuck in front of the screen? 5? 10? Maybe even more!!
In an age where we are overwhelmed with tablets, smartphones, iPads, and laptops, the screen scare is more real than ever!
Now what if I say that while you read this blog, just sit with a paper and pen. Let’s indulge in some self-evaluation. You will be surprised of the kind of things this article could reveal to you and how much clarity it might bring to you.
One thing is for sure: whether you choose to go hard or easy on yourself or your teenager, when it comes to screen time, both of these actions will have their own repercussions. Base your decision not on what is easy but what would help you live a sound, happy and healthy life.
Use the power of analysis and rationale and make sure to pen down rules that work.
How many times in the morning have you gotten up and said to yourself, “Today I will only watch Netflix for an hour” or “Today I will avoid aimlessly scrolling through Instagram for hours.” And then at the end of the day, you ended up falling to the temptation of Netflix or Instagram or a gaming site. Even when it comes to work, do you find yourself deciding that you will finish certain tasks or assignments on time so that you can take time off screen but ended up working in front of that screen through the night? We all make unfulfilled promises to ourselves everyday because it’s not simply that easy to convince yourself to stop doing something we have become so used to.
Let us ask ourselves: Have we ever stopped doing something without knowing why we shouldn’t do it? Probably not.
The human mind needs logic. So, don’t take anyone’s word for it and rather put some time into research and learn more about the pros and cons of too much screen time.
Doing this allows you to facilitate your decisions towards careful engagement rather than the never-ending cycle of forcing yourself into doing something that you don’t know the reason to.
I remember when I found my daughter heavily indulging into her phone, I couldn’t make her get off of it, until I made her research how the one thing she held so precious; her memory could be impacted because of the extensive screen exposure.
This awareness that she got on her own made her install apps that monitored her time available for screen viewing and poof! problem solved.
So, if you want to change this, research and evaluate the importance of maintaining a healthy distance from technology, analyze the repercussions it has on your mental and physical health and then you will find yourself make an informed decision about what you are choosing to do and why.
According to neuroscientists, one human brain is enough to store the entire information available on the web. YES, you read that right!!! By nature, our brain is designed to store endless data and we as humans are curious to fulfill that desire. With an increasing emphasis on gadgets, we are made to believe that gathering information from the internet is the best way to go about it. Hence the elevated use of gadgets and booming Screen Time. But when we really look back at the previous generations, we realize that this is not how they really led their lives.
There are endless ways ranging from reading good books, to learning in the right company, or going out to physically explore new things. Not just to satisfy the human quest for knowledge but also to practically apply that knowledge, learning about ourselves and nurture our soul.
When you are deciding on your gadget availability, ensure to:
Whether it is the end of a busy, stressful day or a relatively free day with a lot of “me” time to spare, reaching out for a gadget has become the most ideal thing to do. Starting a brand-new show on Netflix, playing video games with friends, endless scrolling through Instagram stories, watching YouTube videos or whatever else it is that you choose to do.
It is tempting and it might seem like a good solution but once it becomes a habit to relieve us of the stress; it is not a very healthy choice. Hence, it becomes pertinent to divert your energy towards other activities that are equally engaging and allow you to take time off screen. The substitute activities acting as stress relievers must be more attractive than the gadget you intend to employ.
When I wanted to fix this issue for everyone in my family, I got some board games. From the simplest ones like Ludo to everything else that the entire family could do together, with the youngest the oldest member in tow. Initially there was hesitation but when everyone started enjoying the fun remarks, it became the one time of the day that we all waited for. It helped everyone bond better and made us all quit our screens and focus on being with each other instead.
For you, it could be anything from painting to cooking to some fun trivia nights with the family, exercising, reading and so much more. The trick is to find something that works for you, something that you truly enjoy, and something that helps you relieve stress. Don’t force yourself to do one of these activities instead of engaging with technology because then you would hate it even more. Find something that you genuinely find worthwhile and then slowly substitute that for the hours you spend using a gadget.
Once you start doing this, you will realize that reading a book in your cozy bed at night, buying a canvas and filling it with colors, or even engaging in a heart to heart conversation with a close friend are activities that are capable of giving you the same adrenaline rush that you get from watching the third season of a thrilling murder mystery show!
It is essential to control your Screen Time on an everyday basis and self-control is a very essential component to that. Otherwise, the moment you are off the hook, it would be very tempting to break the rules.
Don’t make the rules suffocating. Set reasonable limits to establish a sense of control.
It is unrealistic to expect yourself to give up on something immediately because it’s unhealthy. Slowly keep reducing the time till you find the perfect balance.
Sometimes we tend to engage in an otherwise undesirable activity just because it’s out there and we have nothing better to do. With almost nothing else to do, the easiest thing would be to pick up your phone and open an app.
However, we can make a difference by changing the narrative by making these gadgets as rewards that have to be earned. So you know that every time you finish an important task or do something that you are proud of, big or small, you can treat yourself with maybe one more episode of your favorite show or whatever else works for you.
This is something like finding healthier substitutes to tech time but simpler to implement. Sounds therapeutic, doesn’t it? Use the “no-devices” allowed tagline as you engage in routine things like chatting, eating, gardening, exercising, and more. This will not only enable you to lead a healthy lifestyle, but it’ll also bring everyone closer as a family.
f you are trying to help you children or anybody else reduce their screen time, then make sure that you Walk the Talk. Period! Whether you like it or not, you have to live the life you are preaching. We are our children’s first role models and the most important ones at that. Your children don’t listen to you, they look at you. If they see us using gadgets all day, they’d just want to replicate the very same thing. And if you want to see your children live a tech-free life, you’ll have to do that first. Cut back on your Screen Time and pave the way for them to follow.
Do you have some interesting stories of how you overcame your smartphone love? Tell me in the comments below! I would love to hear from you.