New technological innovations and affordability of electronic devices on the market has resulted in the wide availability of mobile devices for people across the globe.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have had spare time from studying and working, admittingly spending their time watching TV and using electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, or tablets.
Looking at screens for a long period of time and receiving app notifications, the brain will release a hormone called dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter, stimulating nerves in the brain.The chemical is a contributing factor to happiness and satisfaction when people use their phone; however, prolonged stimulation can affect the impulse control system.
Long amounts of screen time will also affect the frontal cortex of the brain, a similar effect to caffeine addiction. Once you are able to use electronic devices, you feel relieved and satisfied, but leaves you with the opposite effects without access to the devices.
What is the healthy level of electronic device usage?
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised that children aged between two to five years should spend a maximum of one hour per day on screens, while infants under two-years-old should not be given any screen time. Young adults should also limit themselves to 2 hours of screen time per day.
What are the negative impacts of over screen time?
A study from the Child Mind Institute, an independent nonprofit dedicated to children and family healthcare, indicated negative effects of screen time on children and teenages to include:
- Eye problems
- Poor mental health including anxiety and depression
- Poor cognitive skills
- Insomnia and sleeping disorders
- Negative behaviour
- Physical health problems like back pain, should pain, spinal pain
- Poor communication skills
Why should you minimize screen time to a healthy standard?
According to Mayo Clinic, an American nonprofit academic medical centre, health benefits associated with reducing screen time include:
- Improved physical health
- Lower risk of obesity
- Opportunity to discover new activities and hobbies
- Improved feelings
- Better communication skills
How to avoid screen time addiction during the pandemic?
Cutting down screen time to zero can be difficult for day-to-day life, as all types of information are available online. Some strategies to reduce screen time, especially during the Covid-19 crisis, include:
- Screen-time routine change: you can gradually reduce or halve your daily screen time, which is more effective than an instant reduction to zero
- Outdoor activities: even if it is a short distance, taking a walk outdoors (without a phone) can increase endorphin levels, helping with mood lightening and brain enhancement
- Phone-free time: you should create a routine to put your phone down when you spend time with your family and friends to not only build stronger relationships, but to set an example for others
- Co-use devices: sharing electronic devices can lower individual screen time as well as allow you to check your children’s internet search history
- Turn notifications off: receiving constant messages due to notification settings can distract you from work, decreasing concentration and work efficiency.