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How many hours of screen time is too many?

With the convenience of having all our communication always accessible on our smartphones, is there a limit to the hours we have available to spend on our screens?

The truth is, something that may look like excessive screen time for one person could be very different for someone else. The human mind is incredibly flexible and works in amazing ways; just observe how rapidly we've grown accustomed to the habit of tapping on screens and keyboards. While this has led to tremendous growth, it's also brought about a level of escapism which can be detrimental if poorly managed.

It is important to understand what habits actually affect you, and in what ways, so here is a quick self-awareness checklist to figure out what your relationship with your screened device(s) looks like.

Check-ins                                        ✔️
I use my device as a means to escape conversations or interactions with people.
 I reach out to my device upon waking up.
I do not set my device aside (or myself away from) my device when my eyes feel tired and dry.
I have never been aware of how tired and dry my eyes can get from staring at a screen for too long (terrible).
I reach out to my device when faced with tasks which are supposed to be completed immediately.
I mindlessly scroll through disturbing and upsetting media despite it making me feel worse about myself (it’s a no from me boo-boo).

I seek validation in self through likes/follower counts (hands up in the air like you just don’t care).

I have walked into stranger whilst using my device (or maybe the stranger walked into me, takes two hands to clap).

I cannot live without my device.
My device cannot live without me, clearly.

 

Now if you have ticked at least half of the list above, congratulations, you have just been diagnosed with excessive screen time!

All jokes aside, this was just a quick exercise to help you realise what your relationship with your screen time has built up through excess usage. The list definitely goes way beyond the pointers listed, but what I would like for you to start to realise is how the usage of your devices affects the ways in which you live and interact with your world (not wide web). If half your day is spent interacting with a screen, is that something which brings about joy and actual productivity, or more irritation and procrastination?

There is no wrong in finding solace or escape with the help of your device but how much is too much? I’d like to think if you start to wonder whether you are spending too much time on screen, there might be a chance you actually are spending too much time on screen. If so, this is a time to start bringing into awareness the practices that are not beneficial and to wean off those practices.

If most of your day’s work requires the use of the screen and the implications of using your device is actually not of help, then that wouldn’t be the best for your overall well-being. If using your device for a quick escape before you get back to work, refreshed and productive and you know you are taking care of your well-being, go forth and be happy.

Try to understand how your screen time actually affects you and how you feel, then set healthy boundaries. This is a relationship you will end up building not only towards devices as a whole, but also in knowing yourself. Bringing awareness in knowing your habits and inclinations, then understanding the correlations in how they make you feel will allow you clarity as to why you might feel the way you feel.

So put your phone away, stop scrolling, and start understanding your interactions with your screen. Only with understanding then can you bring about improvements and change.

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” - Lao Tzu

 

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