Best Practices
February 15, 2023

How Much Screen Time is Too Much? Protect Your Health in 2023

Knowing how much screen time is too much is a must so we don’t go overboard and expose ourselves to its associated health risks.
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Screen time is a careful balancing act between using it to accomplish our goals and wasting valuable hours in front of the screen. It's like walking a tightrope, always trying to keep our balance and not slip into the abyss of endless scrolling.

Therefore, we must maintain equilibrium - that perfect balance between getting things done and allowing ourselves to be distracted. Plus, with excessive screen time being linked to an array of physical and mental health risks, it’s important to make sure we don’t go overboard.

In this post, we'll explore how much screen time is considered too much, the effects of excessive screen time on our physical and mental health, and some tips on managing screen time so that we can protect our health in 2023.

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Remote Work And Online Classes Have Elevated Screen Time

The need to remain connected and productive during the pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in screen time for many people. Remote work and online classes have become the norm, and people are spending more time than ever in front of their computers and other screens.

According to a report from the United States Census Bureau, the number of people working from home has tripled between 2019 and 2021, from 5.7% to 17.9%. Likewise, the number of students attending school virtually has risen by 186% from 2019 to 2020, with some schools opting to continue having classes online even after the pandemic is over.

With online activities becoming increasingly common, it’s important to know how much screen time is too much and how we can protect our health from the potential harm of excessive screen time.

How Much Screen Time Is Considered Too Much?

Today, Americans spend about 10 hours and 39 minutes in front of a screen daily- an astonishing figure since it's over half our waking hours.

This includes time spent on TVs, computers, mobile phones, and tablets.

  • TVs: 3.5 hours per day, 25% of overall screen time
  • Computers: 2.5 hours per day, 18% of overall screen time
  • Mobile phones: 3 hours per day, 22% of overall screen time
  • Tablets: 1.5 hours per day, 11% of overall screen time

Interestingly, we wanted to compare the average screen time in different professions. Hence we carried out a study that yield the following results:

  • Software Development: 5.1 hrs
  • CEO/Founder: 5.3 hrs
  • Design/PM/Marketing: 5.2 hrs 
  • Finance/Ops/Consulting: 5.4 hrs
  • Student/Academic: 5.6 hrs
  • Art/Content: 5.6 hrs
  • Other: 5.5 hrs

But how much screen time is too much?

Recommended Screen Time Limits

According to The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, parents must regulate their children's screen time usage based on their age groups and activity levels using the following recommended guidelines:

  • Until your child reaches 18 months, restrict their screen time to video chatting with an adult—for example, if they are talking to a family member who is traveling away from home.
  • For children between 18 and 24 months, it is advisable to restrict their screen time to educational programming that is watched by a caregiver.
  • On weekdays, children aged 2-5 should not exceed one hour of engaging in non-educational online activity. On the weekends, however, they can spend up to three hours.
  • From the tender age of 6 and onward, promote healthy habits to your kids while limiting activities that involve screens to have a positive lasting effect.

Unlike kids, there is no specific recommendation for adults regarding the amount of time they should spend in front of a screen. But, it is important to be aware that excessive screen time can harm physical and mental health, sleep health, and overall well-being.

Aim to monitor your own screen time and be mindful of your digital habits by swapping out non-essential digital activities for alternative activities, such as exercising, meditation, reading, and more.

Tips On Managing Screen Time

Here are a few tips on managing your screen time for you and your kids:

1. Set Realistic Goals and Limits

Setting limits and boundaries on how much time you or your child spends in front of a screen is an important step to managing and reducing screen time. Make sure these goals are achievable, realistic, and balanced with other activities such as outdoor play, physical activity, or other hobbies.

2. Take Regular Breaks

Resting your eyes and taking regular breaks from screens can help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Try setting a timer for yourself or your child to take periodic screen-free breaks, even if it’s just five minutes every hour.

3. Create Screen-Free Zones

Designate specific areas of your home as “screen-free zones” that are off-limits for screen use. This serves as a reminder to take breaks from devices and talk, play, or relax with family members. For instance, mealtime at the dinner table should be device-free, not just for yourself but also for your children so they can practice healthy eating habits while enjoying quality time with family.

4. Set a Healthy Example

Kids look up to their parents and caregivers, so you must set a healthy example for your children. If you reduce your own screen time, chances are that your kids will follow suit.

5. Find Alternative Activities

Find alternative activities that don’t involve screens such as exercise, playing board games, going for a walk outside, or engaging in creative pursuits, such as drawing or painting.

The Impact Of Excessive Screen Time

Excessive screen time, more than the recommended limits, can hurt physical and mental health, sleep health, and overall well-being.

1. Physical Effects

A sedentary lifestyle due to sitting for long hours is the harbinger of many health problems. Topping the list is obesity, which is caused by a lack of physical activity and an unhealthy diet. Not to mention, straining your eyes from looking at screens all day can lead to headaches and eyestrain.

2. Mental Effects

Your mental health should also be a priority. As such, it's no surprise that too much screen time can negatively affect one's emotional and psychological well-being.

Studies have shown that excessive screen time is linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This is likely because too much time spent on devices can lead to social isolation and loneliness, as well as a feeling of FOMO, or fear of missing out. Additionally, the pressure to keep up with content and posts on social media can lead to excessive comparison which can be damaging to one's self-esteem.

3. Effects On Sleep And Overall Well-Being

Lastly, sleep deprivation is a heavy-handed consequence of excessive screen time as it affects your circadian rhythm. The blue light emitted from screens can disrupt melatonin production, leading to poor sleep quantity and quality. This can have a ripple effect on overall well-being as lack of sleep is linked to impaired cognitive function and increased stress levels.

Expert Advice On Safeguarding Health and Well-Being

While excessive screen time is shown to have a wide range of negative effects on the body and mind, positive screen time, or monitored screen time, is proven to have the opposite effect.

Positive or monitored screen time includes self-monitoring your screen time with specific goals in mind, which includes using screens for educational or informative purposes.

A study done by Kaveh Abhari of San Diego State University and Isaac Vaghefi of the City University of New York showed that mindful device use showed an increase in productivity and user satisfaction with their productivity.

Using screen time management apps such as Opal, which allow you to tailor your goals, is a great way to monitor and manage your screen time.

Manage Screen Time With An App

Knowing how much screen time is too much is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to managing your digital health. To make a change and protect your health in 2023, it's important to find ways to manage your screen time.

Opal is the #1 screen time management app that helps users manage their screen time and regain control of their digital lives. Through built-in innovative and user-intuitive features, you can:

  • Set daily limits for screen time
  • Track and monitor screen usage
  • Receive notifications when reaching daily limits
  • Set customized schedules for screen time
  • Integrate with other apps to balance screen time with physical activity or other healthy habits
  • Set up parental controls to limit screen time for children
  • Set and monitor screen time goals

Opal empowers users to foster healthy digital habits that promote productivity and balance in their lives.

Prioritize Your Health And Wellbeing
Control your screen time for a healthier life
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Learn More About Digital Well-being and Focus

In the digital age, it's important to stay informed on all aspects of digital health. To learn more about digital well-being and focus, check out our blog page for helpful resources.

It's chock-full of tips and tricks for managing screen time, being mindful about device use, and protecting your health in the digital age.

Measure Your Focus, Block Distractions, Automate Your Days And So Much More

By understanding how much screen time is too much, you can better protect your health in 2023 and beyond. Managing your screen time habits can help you create a healthy balance between devices and physical activities that will have a lasting impact on your mental and physical well-being.

Remember: taking ownership of your digital health is the first step towards creating a healthier life for yourself! 

We are here to help you do just that and unlock your potential by making focus a priority! Try Opal today for free and join us in our mission of creating a more balanced digital world.

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