Limiting Screen Time

What you can do to limit the amount of time you and your children spend in front of a screen.

When the television was invented, it was a novel technology that was found only in a few homes throughout the world. Over time, as televisions became less expensive and began to seem a necessity, they began popping up in nearly every home. A few years later, computers made the same leap in popularity, and then cell phones and handheld video game consoles.

As useful as each of these tools can be, many people spend too much time looking at a screen. In fact, it is estimated that children and adults alike spend 48 hours or more each week looking at some sort of screen. If you want to reduce your screen time and get back some of the two days you spend each week watching television, surfing the web, or texting, you’ll need to take some dramatic measures.

First Dramatic Measure: Recognize the Issue

Don’t think spending nearly seven hours each day in front of a screen is an issue? Then you’re never going to make a change. If you want to regain some of your life and use your time to interact with your loved ones, read a book, or get out and exercise, you have to first realize the need to do so. Write down all the things you’ve missed out on because of your electronic habits. Would you rather be getting projects done around the house? Playing your guitar? Talking with your elderly neighbor? Baking a cake? Once you have your priorities in order, you’ll be ready to drop that bite-sized videogame console and move forward.

Second Dramatic Measure: Make a Plan

As great as it is to want to kill all screen time, it’s probably not feasible. Instead, you need a plan that can actually work for you. Figure out how much time you spend watching TV, texting, and surfing the web mindlessly (or even with a purpose). Then make a conscious decision to cut your time by a reasonable amount. It’s okay to check your e-mail and text on occasion. Just don’t forget why that phone was originally created. Instead of blasting an e-mail or text to a friend or family member, call him or her and talk for a while. It’ll reduce any confusion you may experience in the other mediums of communication and you’ll feel a little more human.

Third Dramatic Measure: Cut a Day

While your screen-time-reduction plan may involve reducing your screen time every day, there’s another surefire way to drastically lower the amount of time you spend staring at a screen. That surefire way? Completely cutting yourself off from screen-based technologies one day a week. Instead of chatting online or watching television on these days, commit to spend the entire day hanging out and making memories with your loved ones. To help yourself stay away from e-mail and your favorite programs, turn off your cell phone and computer and get out of the house. Go in the woods for a day hike, take a picnic, and don’t come back until you’re utterly exhausted. Then tell yourself you don’t need to check your e-mail or text a friend when you get home. If you must communicate with someone, make a phone call. Got to have your daily news fix? Run by a newsstand and grab a newspaper.

With hours and hours of your week given back to you, what are you going to do? Whatever it is, stop reading this article and get to it! Your life awaits, and those technologies will wait for you to get back.

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