While technology has improved our lives in countless ways, it has also presented many unique challenges. Due to the prevalence of digital devices, people today have grown accustomed to using social media to stay connected with the world. However, overdependence on devices can cause people to feel isolated – which is a double whammy in our stay-at-home existence.
Most people place a high priority on maintaining strong connections. Sadly, social media can only provide the semblance of connection to others.
Mounting research suggests that excessive screen time may be linked to cognitive, behavioral, and mood problems. The longing for genuine connection may create a vicious circle where a lonely individual interacts on social media only to feel more alone and isolated. This emptiness may create a craving for a deeper connection that leads to even longer screen sessions.
Due to this growing hunger for connection, many have become attached to their devices over time. If left unchecked, this near-obsessive need can lead to digital dependence.
Few would argue that we’re becoming increasingly dependent on technology. For many, the desire to stay connected to the internet 24/7 has become a compulsion. But is there such a thing as digital dependence, and if so, does it come with a price?
Leading cognitive neuroscientists (some specializing in “technopathology”) have identified new brain complications linked to society’s widespread reliance upon technology. These conditions range from a kind of separation panic over misplacing a device to hearing a phantom ring when no one is calling.
In addition to its unhealthy influences on the brain, screen fixation also can take its toll on the body. Many screen bound individuals live a sedentary lifestyle. Becoming the proverbial “couch potato” can prevent you from maintaining healthy habits such as consistent physical activity, a healthy diet, and proper motivation to set and achieve goals…not to mention much-needed socialization.
Remaining sedentary can increase risk factors for many illnesses and can even shorten your lifespan. One study found that internet obsession can even weaken immune function.
Spending long hours staring at screens can also disrupt your sleep. This is particularly true at night since the artificial light from screens can delay melatonin production and disrupt your body’s 24-hour circadian rhythms and sleep/wake cycle. Since sleep deprivation is linked to a host of mental and physical issues, it’s best to tuck in your devices at least one hour before you tuck yourself into bed.
Bottom line: spending too much time browsing the internet, engaging on social media, watching TV and movies, playing video games, or occupying yourself with any other leisure activity that involves a screen, can potentially steal your health.
To prevent the many adverse effects associated with screen fixation, try these 7 simple ways to improve your digital well-being:
When you’re sitting on the couch watching TV or YouTube, your brain isn’t being challenged. Find an outdoor activity (such as hiking, biking, walking, jogging, etc.) you enjoy so much, you’d rather do it than look at a screen. It’s recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, so get moving.
Deep inside the brain, your pleasure centers respond to several neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine. When dopamine is depleted, low mood and motivation are much more likely to occur. Monitor your high-excitement activities, limit video games, and boost your dopamine naturally by engaging in meaningful conversations and fun outdoor activities.
It’s not unusual for parents to limit their kids’ TV or tablet time, so why shouldn’t that same rule apply to adults? Establish a time when all devices will be turned off for the remainder of the evening. Not only will this provide a break from calling, texting, browsing the internet, and posting content on social media, it will allow you to spend more time with family.
Using devices or playing video games for hours on end can be habit-forming. Excessive screen time has been linked to a greater risk of developing attention problems. Determine a screen time limit each day and use a timer to remind you to disengage from screens and engage with people.
Remove all electronic devices from your bedroom since they emit light that can stimulate the brain and keep you awake. A tech-free bedroom can help reduce harmful electromagnetic frequencies (EMF), which might also interfere with your sleep. Creating a relaxing environment, free from the distractions of the outside world, may help facilitate better sleep.
It’s common for people to use more than one form of technology at the same time. To prevent your attention from being divided by multiple devices, follow the “one screen at a time” rule. This should aid your ability to focus while also giving your overstimulated brain some much-needed downtime.
A great way to prevent the onset of digital dependence is to reserve one day of the week for the internet fast. Rather than being glued to a screen all day, find a new hobby, have a quality conversation, start an exercise routine, or enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. You might be surprised at how many things you can do, and how much fun you can have while taking a break from the internet.
Implementing these 7 tips can help limit your screen time, reduce your exposure to EMFs, and improve your mental, physical, and overall well-being. Most importantly, they can help you live in harmony with technology rather than being controlled by it.
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