How to reduce the time spent in front of the screens?

We need to use new technologies to be able to study and work in today’s world, especially now that the pandemic has made telecommuting the norm.

Working for several hours directly in front of a computer, in addition to abusing other electronic devices such as cell phones, affects our eyes in a very negative way. The blue light emitted by these devices causes visual health problems, sleep problems, and even depression.

Knowing how to reduce the time spent in front of screens has become an extremely necessary thing. namely to prevent our health from suffering and then we will see some types to be able to achieve this.

    How to reduce the time spent in front of screens

    That the abuse of screens leads to damage to health has long been known. Being in front of an electronic device for many consecutive hours leads to visual health problems, such as red eyes, eye strain, burns, blurred vision, and headaches typical of computer visual syndrome.

    Add to that, continuous exposure to screen light influences our circadian cycle, Translates into difficulty sleeping and, indirectly, depression and other mood problems.

    In view of all these health problems associated with the abuse of electronic devices, it becomes necessary to acquire strategies to reduce the time of exposure to screens. It is true that the way we work and study forces us to spend more hours than we would like in front of the computer and the cell phone, which we find difficult to reduce, but it is possible to apply changes and new daily habits that help us have a healthier relationship with new technologies.

    Here are some strategies we can apply to learn how to reduce screen time.

    1. Do not use screens the hour before bedtime

    As we mentioned, the light from screens negatively affects our circadian cycles. If the ideal is not to have used a screen in the two hours before going to bed (this also applies to television), in practice it is rather complicated, so we must at least suggest not to use screens at bedtime.

    Screens emit blue light, especially cell phones, which suppress melatonin levels, The hormone that controls sleep cycles. As a result, we may take longer to fall asleep, our sleep may be worse, and we may not function properly the next day, in addition to running the risk of suffering from depressive symptoms.

      2. Set a screen timeout

      During the day, we need to set times when electronic devices cannot be used, especially if we know that there are times of the day that are very unlikely to receive notification of our work or study. These are the times when we have no obligation that we can use to free ourselves from the great presence that new technologies have in our lives.

      Any time that suits us is perfect. For example, we can choose to do this during meals, committing ourselves not to use our cell phones or watch TV while we eat.. Calculating that it took us about 20 minutes to prepare each meal, if we followed this rule one day, we would have a guaranteed hour and 20 minutes of screen break.

      For this to work, it is also very important to extend it to other times of the day that do not require the presence of screens at all. If we go to the bathroom or go to the supermarket for shopping, we should avoid using the cell phone in these situations. To meet our needs, we don’t need mobiles and the shopping list can be memorized or written down on a piece of paper.

      3. Set alerts for emails

      If we are waiting for an email from work to arrive, the two or three of us can check our cell phone to see if it has arrived. The problem is, we run the risk of being entertained with every glance we give, going to apps that aren’t as achievable as social media or video games. To avoid this, a good way is to put alerts to let us know when an email has arrived and keep the mobile out of our sight.

      4. Change the phone settings

      Many people are unable to unplug the phone. This is normal as they are activated so that the colors in their apps will captivate us and grab our attention, making us spend more time glued to them. One way to avoid this is to change the screen colors in grayscale mode., Make applications less attractive to us.

      Another way is to activate the screen time limit function or, in case the mobile does not have it, download one of the many applications that offer this functionality. Whenever we exceed the set time, a warning will appear or, depending on the app we have installed, it may not allow us to use the phone for a while.

      This is a very good option for grouping social media apps into a folder that does not appear on the home screen, i.e. they are a bit more hidden. While we can’t avoid using the phone for work or study, we can at least avoid using it to use social media, which undoubtedly represents a significant saving in screen exposure. .

      5. Print the documents

      A good strategy to avoid vision problems is to print documents, whether they are lecture notes or work reports. In both cases, have the documents printed this will allow us to turn off the computer for a moment and consult the texts in any part of the house or in a library, resting our eyes blue light on the screen.

      In the case of students, the printing of their notes has an advantage and that is that they can underline the text and make notifications, which makes the knowledge more established. It is true that this involves economic expense and paper consumption, but if it is important documents, using this strategy is worth it.

      6. Rest every 60 minutes

      As far as our assignments or lessons permit, we will need to take a short eye break every 60 minutes. To do this, we can take a quick walk inside the house or even on the street, no more than 5 minutes to continue our obligations.. We can also go to the bathroom to wash our face and moisturize our eyes a little.

      If it is not possible for us to take breaks every now and then, a good alternative is that when we type in a word processor we look at the keyboard and check the text at the end. At first we can make more mistakes, but with a little practice we will write perfectly, in addition this option allows us to work for hours directly on the computer without the continuous effects of the exposure on the screen. .

      Bibliographical references:

      • Park WK (2005) Cell phone addiction. A: Mobile communications. Computer Assisted Cooperative Work, Vol 31. Springer, London
      • Reagle, J. (2015). After the Joneses: FOMO and visible sociality. First Monday, 20 (10). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i10.6064
      • Stevens, R. G and Zhu, Y. (2015) Electric light, especially at night, alters human circadian rhythmicity: is this a problem? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B37020140120 http://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2014.0120.

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