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How to Monitor Screen Time (to Save You Time)

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How to Monitor Screen Time (to Save You Time)

The one thing we all carry with us, literally all day long, is our smartphone. We don’t even need to carry our purses and wallets anymore, since we can pay for things with our phones, let alone not having to carry other things such as a camera on a day out, or a notebook or diary. 

Smartphones make our lives easier and simpler. But do they? Could all this time we’re spending on our devices, from our phones to our tablets and laptops and even our smartwatches, be detrimental in some way? 

It turns out, yes. The most well-known ‘side effect’ of using our phones, especially so at night, is that the blue light emitted from the screens can interrupt our sleep patterns. It tricks the brain into thinking it’s still daylight (as blue light is on a similar wavelength to daylight) and therefore our brain is too active to wind down towards sleep.  

Staring at our screens for long periods of time can also make us vulnerable to eyestrain. Plus perhaps more worrying, is evidence that heavy electronic device use can actually restructure the brain. The brain is made up of grey matter that forms the weight and the folds of the brain and white matter that transmits brain signals. Heavy screen time is associated with a shrinking of the grey matter and reduction in the ability of the white matter to communicate messages. These changes are minor, but still concerning. 

So, what can we do? Working long hours in front of a screen isn’t something that we can change easily, if that’s our job. But we can take breaks from the screen to take a walk, even if it’s to the water cooler or fridge (or to hang washing out if we’re still working from home!) 

Ideally, take five minutes every hour to stretch, decompress and give your eyes a rest. It’s tempting to work through our lunch break if we’re busy but taking half an hour away from our desks is hugely beneficial for both our physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as reducing our screen time.

In terms of social media and all the other things we scroll through in our spare time, it can be useful to utilise our smartphone settings so that our phones tell us how long we’ve been browsing for. 

On an iPhone, go to Settings and tap Screen Time. Turn on Screen Time and then choose App Limits to set an alert when you go over your chosen time limit. You can schedule Downtime too, when you won’t be able to access certain apps after a certain time.

On an Android phone, go to Settings and find Digital Wellbeing. Under the tools section you’ll find how to manage your time online. 

These are useful tools for helping us realise how much time we’ve spent online, as it can be super easy to lose hours each week down the rabbit hole of search engines and timelines. It might even force us to get outside and enjoy the longer, lighter days! 

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