How much time do you spend in front of a screen every day? According to one report, the average person spends about seven hours a day on internet-connected screens. And that figure will be even higher if your work is mostly done in front of a computer.
Most of us use digital devices excessively, spending too much time working or enjoying ourselves distractedly on phones, tablets, laptops or even VR headsets. We are accused of being addicted to technology and warned of the dangers to our physical and mental health.
A significant paradox here is that we often retreat into the digital world to escape the stresses of the physical world, but may end up simply picking up other types of digital and physical stresses along the way.
As a parent, I worried a few years ago about the effect my digital life was having on my job and family. I did some research on my own, changed the way I used my devices, and even wrote a book about the dangers of what I call “digital hell.”
Only in recent years have longer-term studies on the issue been published. And taken together, these studies comprise a growing and significant body of knowledge, which is hard to ignore or ignore: too much technology can cause problems for us humans.
To be clear, digital devices offer significant benefits – think connection, education, entertainment. The danger is when our overuse of them becomes toxic to our health.
Personally, eye strain, neck pain, poor sleep, stress, repetitive strain injuries of all kinds, and reduced hand function are just some of the symptoms I’ve had over the years. years thanks to my overuse of screens and devices and research shows I’m far from alone.
If any of these symptoms describe you (or someone you know), or you just feel like too much of your life is spent staring at a screen, then you might find my advice on how to get your tech back under control.
How to take back control
1. Practice consciously putting down your digital devices
Keep them out of sight and put them away when you’re not using them, especially at night. Banish them from the bedroom, get an alarm clock (so you’re not using your phone alarm), and you’ll sleep better without the nighttime creep. And break the habit of watching TV with your phone next to you. Just focus on one task at a time without the distraction of another screen.
2. Set screen time limits
Too much screen time can give you headaches. Be aware of how you use your technology and use features like voice notes, which allow you to stay on top of communications without staring at a screen for a long time.
3. Stop allowing digital distractions
Constant interruption can induce physical and mental stress. Turn off notifications and alerts when you want to focus fully on a task. And keep your phone away from your desk. Research shows that having your phone nearby, even if it doesn’t ring or ring, and even if the power is off, can negatively impact performance.
4. Schedule adequate digital-free time
Depression and anxiety are a result of digital overload. So stepping away from the digital world for a while is important. Go for a walk in nature, read a book, go for a bike ride – anything that takes you away from your screens for a while.
5. Make screens easier on the eyes
Excessive use of the screen can strain our eyes and affect our vision. Don’t squint at tiny screens to do work that would be better done on a larger-screen laptop. Reduce blue light on your devices and use all the other useful accessibility features. Start with that screen glow. And also make sure the volume doesn’t burst your eardrums.
6. Take control of the chaos of information overload
Organize your phone, computer and tablet so you can use them more efficiently. Some apps really help you take charge of your life and work more calmly and effectively. Time tracking apps measure how much time you are spending (wasting) on the screen – prepare to be horrified! We regain ownership of our digital devices when we become more proactive in using them.
7. Sit back when you’re digitally engaged
Squatting in front of a phone or hunching over a laptop will hurt your neck and back. Sit up straight, stretch regularly, and exercise often, without your phone.
Be a digital decision maker
These seven tips should help you regain a sense of control over your digital life. For me, it’s about sleeping and waking up better after leaving my phone downstairs. It’s about having dedicated and scheduled digital time and specific moments where the phone has no place in what I’m doing.
But it’s also about enjoying these technological miracles more satisfactorily and using them more consciously. I like to think of myself now as a digital decision maker and not just another digital victim.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Paul Levy does not work for, advise on, own stock in, or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.