How To Reduce Your Screen Time
- Student Tips
There's a lot of buzz about screen time and kids -- that applies to big kids, too. That's right: we're talking to you, college students! It's time to start heeding all the warnings about screen time.
Why is screen time not great? It's actually fine. It's too much that's a problem. Too much at the wrong time is even worse.
Electronic devices emit a blue light, called cyan, which disrupts sleep patterns. When you're on screens at all times, your sleep suffers. When your sleep suffers, so does your attention and focus. When all three suffer? Bad combination for studying!
So, while screen time is nearly unavoidable -- and often helps with studying and coursework -- there's a time and a place.
Here are some ways to limit screen time when you don't need it:
1. It's meal time, not screen time
This one sounds like a no-brainer: no phones, tablets, or computers while you eat. Enjoy your food. While it can be tempting to catch up on news or your social media while you eat, especially if you eat alone, it's an easy time to sit back, relax, and reflect.
Eat. Enjoy your food. Look out a window. Think about something. If you have to look at something, read a magazine. Unplug.
2. Don't watch movies in bed
"But it's so cozy!" We know. Much easier to snuggle up on the couch or in your favorite chair with a bowl of popcorn. You'll sleep better and watch less if you end the movie or show when it's done, get up, brush your teeth, and go to bed. Cozy up. Don't settle in.
3. Take up a new hobby
Here's a novel idea: if you're bored, do something. Don't turn to Facebook or a video game out of boredom. Pick up a book, go for a walk, take some pictures. Do. Something. Else.
Learn how to knit or cook. Blast some music and dance. Get away from your screen!
4. Increase your access to green space and natural light
Research suggests that green spaces improve your mental health. Go sit on a park bench and listen to some birds. Lower your stress. Talk to a friend. Sit in the sun. Take a stroll instead of a scroll! Eat lunch outside and read a book. Do something outside that doesn't require a screen.
Sunlight has Vitamin D, a key nutrient for your health that also improves your ability to pay attention. Get outside! There are so many options!
5. Create a sleep sanctuary
It's a place where all you do is sleep. No screens. No books. Nothing except sleeping.
Sleep is restorative and reparative. It's your quiet recharge time. When you sleep, your brain gets rid of garbage information, makes new pathways for things you've learned, and reduces inflammation throughout your whole body.
Your sleep sanctuary is comfortable, quiet, and dark. You can even get an eye mask.
6. Practice mindfulness
Yoga, meditation, and breath work are all mindfulness activities that will help you decompress. They don't require screens -- in fact, they work better without screens.
Do these and you will likely see an immediate improvement in your overall sense of well-being, your attention, focus, and ability to sleep well. Try it!
Your best bet? Exercise outside. Get that vitamin D in a green space and get moving. If you exercise at a gym that has screens, try to position yourself away from them. You'll feel better, won't strain your eyes, and you will sleep better, too.
Have we convinced you? Are you ready to unplug, at least for a little bit? Get out there. Your brain will thank you!