With Americans now spending over 11 hours a day on screens, it’s no surprise that many of us are concerned about the effects of too much time in front of a screen. Whether it’s passively scrolling through social media, actively playing games, or chatting with friends and family online – all types of screen time can take a drastic toll on our physical and mental health.
Grasping an understanding of the different types of screen time – passive, active, and communication – can not only help you become aware of how much time you spend in front of a screen but also provide helpful insights into the effects that each type has on your health.
Passive Screen Time
Mindlessly scrolling through mind-numbingly lengthy posts or watching hours of YouTube videos might be your favorite pastime, but passive screen time can be detrimental to your health. It entails minimal engagement and requires little cognitive effort, which many may feel comfortable with due to its mechanical nature. However, excessive passive use of digital devices offers no real value or benefit, rather it opens the door to several mental and physical health issues.
Active Screen Time
While more engaging than its passive counterpart, active screen time also comes with negative consequences. Whether it be playing a gripping new video game or obsessively checking emails, active screen time requires you to interact with the digital world for long periods.
Active screen time tends to be more captivating and educational as it requires more mental effort and can provide a sense of accomplishment. However, it can also be more addictive and can lead to people becoming engrossed in the activity at hand.
Communication Screen Time
As humans, communicating and connecting with others is an everyday activity that is essential for our well-being. Whereas cavemen relied on face-to-face communication to survive and thrive, today we rely more on digital screens.
Communication screen time can be beneficial and can help us form relationships with those who we can’t physically meet. However, too much of it can lead to social discord, social isolation, and feelings of loneliness. We should promote a healthy balance of both digital and face-to-face interaction for our well-being.
The Effects Of All Types Of Screen Time
No matter what type of screen time you are engaging in, certain drawbacks come with all three. Some of the most common effects include:
Excessive screen time has been linked to sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, as well as reduced sleep quality. The blue light emitted by screens can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep, and the stimulating nature of screens can make it harder to relax and wind down before bed. Therefore, building an unplugged nighttime routine helps to dampen the negative effects of too much screen time on your sleep cycle.
We know it can be tempting to stay in and be glued to your device rather than socializing with friends. Whether it’s messaging apps or online gaming, digital devices can keep us in our own little bubbles, preventing us from forming deep connections by neglecting real-life human interaction. Humans need meaningful social contact to feel connected and fulfilled, so it’s important to step away from the screen now and then.
Poor Physical Health
The sedentary lifestyle that comes with digital devices can hurt our physical health. Sitting for long periods has been linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. Even if you are engaging in active screen time such as gaming, it’s important to take regular breaks and move around to stimulate your body.
Mental Health Issues
We tend to overlook the psychological implications that come with too much screen time. Prolonged screen time can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Being mindful of your screen time and using it in moderation will help to reduce the chances of developing these mental health issues.
Although digital devices can be used to further your academic pursuits, excessive screen time can result in poor academic performance and difficulty focusing on tasks. In fact, one study shows that teens who spend over 7 hours daily on their devices were 40% less likely to achieve academic success. It is important to find a balance between screen time and other activities, such as studying and completing homework. You can also utilize apps such as Opal to encourage more effective study practices.
Foster Productive and Mindful Screen Time Habits With Opal
It's undeniable that digital devices are part of our lives and can be beneficial. However, we must recognize the potential harm that comes with excessive screen time and strive to find a healthy balance.
With Opal, you can easily manage your screen time habits to ensure that you are reaping the benefits of mindful technology usage while lessening any potential negative impacts. Try Opal for free today to maintain healthy screen time habits and take control of your well-being.