Take a Day to (Literally) Unplug from Your Family’s Screens

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Whether you love iOS or Android, you, your partner, your children, and/or your teens likely have multiple devices you all use that contribute to your collective screen time.

Whether it’s surfing social media on your smartphone while you’re waiting in line at a store or office, checking your smartwatch every time it gives a haptic notice while you’re at work in a meeting, or watching hours of television, Netflix or YouTube- with or without another device being used as a second screen – our culture is spending more and more time on our electronic devices.

And the research behind the enhanced screen time we’ve experienced in the past decade or so provides us with numbers that don’t lie:

  • A MarketWatch article reported that Americans spend more than 11 hours a day in front of a screen – including time on a computer during the workday.
  • A CBS article reports that kids and teens ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 7 hours a day in front of a screen – even though the same article says that the American Heart Association recommends that the age group spends no more than 2 hours a day on screen time.
  • The Anxiety Centre also reports that researchers from San Diego State University found a link between screen time and the development of mental illness in children, specifically anxiety disorder and depression.

    If you’re feeling a slight sense of guilt rising in you as you’re reading this, perhaps you and your family are currently spending too much time in front of screens. If you are, know that you’re not alone and that there are many people just like you who are making the effort to spend more time unplugging.

    **It’s important to note that anxiety disorder and depression aren’t caused by a biological problem with the brain, a chemical imbalance, or genetic problem, so most of the causes are preventable and/or relatively easily treatable with help from a counselor.

Join the Rising Movement to Digitally Unplug

More and more American families are becoming concerned about their media consumption and doing something about it. In fact, there’s actually a National Day of Unplugging that takes place every March. This year, it takes place on March 13th.

The goal of this day is to spend an entire 24-hour period without viewing any screens. While this may not be realistic if you have to use a computer for work, you can certainly make a concerted effort to set a day to avoid using screens for enjoyment or for filling in time when you’re bored. Another area where you can limit your screen time is mandatory work assignments or try only using your phone to make or answer emergency phone calls.

What are the Benefits of Unplugging?

There are several benefits from unplugging from electronic devices and living a more analog life, even if for only a day. These include:

  • Spending more face-to-face time with your family members and close friends.
  • Encouraging kids and teens to spend more time playing with traditional toys and games, playing outside, and exercising.
  • Promoting better sleep hygiene, as Americans are reporting that those who surf their smartphones when they go to bed at night have a harder time falling asleep.
  • Sleep with your smartphone turned off because it emits blue light which your brain interprets as daylight, thus keeping you awake longer.

Additionally, unplugging from screens can help your family better reconnect with one another, give you more time for social gatherings, and help your family enjoy good old-fashioned activities like playing board games, putting together puzzles, and reading a traditional paperback or hardcover book – not e-books on a tablet.

Set Realistic Goals If You Want to Reduce Your Family’s Screen Time Consumption for the Long Term

Perhaps you’re feeling motivated to make long-term reductions in your family’s consumption of media. If so, we understand that telling the kids they only get 2 hours of screen time from this point forward may come as a big shock to them.

We recommend that if you feel your family is spending too much time in front of screens that you set realistic goals to gradually reduce your family’s screen time usage over a few weeks or months. There are many different methods to do so, such as setting certain hours of the days where screentime isn’t allowed (such as during homework time and mealtimes) or slowly scaling back on the number of hours you’ll allow you and your children to consume media.

Whatever method you choose, we recommend you make it a family affair. You’ll likely face a backlash from your kids or teens if you’ve told them they need to reduce the amount of time they’re on social media, streaming services or YouTube, but they see you still surfing your smartphone as usual.

If Your Family’s Use of Screen Time is Extreme, Couples or Family Counseling May Help

Some people feel abandoned due to the amount of time their partners or children are spending in front of screens. Others may have a screen addiction. Screen addiction has a tendency to present as anxiety in children and adults.

If you feel like your family may be suffering from Screen Addiction or they’ve completely teetered over to the edge of no return, please know that there is a way to successfully reign in your family’s screen time usage.

In some cases, counseling sessions either with your partner or your entire family may be the best way to express your concerns about your family’s media consumption and work together as a family unit to find the balance in life you desire.

To reach us for assistance scaling back your family’s screen time, call us at (504) 302-7771 or fill out our online contact form.