How much screen time is too much for adults?

BILLIONThe COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in countless ways, including the amount of time we spend glued to our devices. Research published in 2021 shows that Americans in their 20s used their phones an average of 28.5 hours per week in 2020 — up from 25.9 hours per week in 2018. One review studies conducted in 2020 and 2021 give an even higher estimate, finding that the average time spent using a device by adults in the US and other countries has increased by 60–80% than before the pandemic.

Time spent using the device too much show have negative effects on children and adolescents. It was link to psychological problems, such as higher rates of depression and anxiety, as well as health problems such as poor sleep and a higher ratio of fat. Many researchers believe that excessive screen use may not be harmful to adults, but its effects have not been studied extensively. Recent research has found that it can still have disastrous consequences, such as digital eye strain, insomniaand getting worse mental health.

So how much screen time is too much for adults? That’s the wrong question, experts say. Yalda T. Uhls, assistant professor of psychology at UCLA and former film executive who studies the health effects of phone time, says what you’re watching really matters. than the overall time that you use the phone. For example, watching documentaries on your phone doesn’t have the same effect as mindlessly scrolling Instagram.

“What researchers have been saying for the past 10 to 15 years is that the challenge to focusing on time limits is that it detracts from the content conversation, and the content conversation has to be,” she said. which we are leading,” she said.

That’s why you don’t necessarily have to worry if your weekly iPhone screen time report sends you a high number, says Dr. Dimitri Christakis, pediatrician, epidemiologist and director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children’s Institute, who studied screen time across all age groups. Total time spent on the device isn’t as important as analyzing how you use it, he says. Many experts find that time spent on social networking apps is of the utmost concern. “We can’t simply count all device time equally,” says Christakis. “Look at what you think is purely entertaining or a complete waste of your time, and ask yourself, is there a better way to spend time?”

If you feel like your screen time has become excessive, Uhls recommends asking yourself five important questions:

  1. Did you sleep well?
  2. Are you eating well?
  3. Are you leaving home and integrating into society?
  4. Is your job good?
  5. Are you physically active?

“If all of this is happening, then I wouldn’t worry about your screen time,” Uhls said.

Many experts avoid giving common device time limits, but here are some general, well-researched guidelines to follow.

Limit social media use 30-60 minutes a day for better mental health

For years, research has shown social media to be the most troublesome type of content. One learn published in 2018 in Journal of Clinical and Social Psychology looked at how Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat affected the mental health of 143 college students. If these young people showed symptoms of depression at the start of the study, then reduce social media use to just 10 minutes per day per platform — 30 minutes on social media per day in total. — in three weeks, their depressive symptoms and loneliness decreased.

Study author Melissa Hunt, associate director of clinical training in the department of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted two follow-up studies. One, published in 2021, found that college students who used social media for 30 minutes a day — what researchers describe as a “modest” period of time — had the highest happiness. compared to those who didn’t use social media at all or who used it excessively. “They were the most connected, the least lonely, the least depressed compared to the heavy users, but also compared to the non-users,” she said.

Hunt says that her second, upcoming follow-up study shows it’s better for college students’ mental health to post and interact with others on social media (instead of scrolling one way or another). passive) and follow people they actually know in real life instead of strangers, celebrities, and influencers (who tend to focus on creating the perfect picture of their lives). them, which can lead to unhealthy social comparisons). “Celebrities and influencers exaggerate all of the negative effects of social media, including social comparison and body dissatisfaction,” she says.

“It’s not social media that’s the problem,” says Hunt. “It is overuse or improper use, which is very problematic. My advice is if you’re going to use social media, follow your friends for about an hour a day”—a number she bases on the findings of other studies showing that “60 minutes is probably is a great point” and is actually a more realistic goal for people to shoot more than 30 minutes a day.

Spend three to four hours a day without any screens

Another way to build a healthier relationship with screens is to protect the time you spend without screens. Christakis says that everyone should spend at least three to four hours a day in complete isolation from screens. His research has found that screen time affects children language skills and is correlated with potential behavioral problems. “I think what we really need to focus on as a society is having more traditional, healthy ways of interacting with the people in front of you or even with yourself,” he said.

To get the biggest benefits, make sure you spend some screen-free time doing physical activity. One Research 2020 conducted in Canada surveyed people during the pandemic and found that when people engaged in two habits together — limiting device time and exercising outdoors — they received better results. the biggest improvements in their mental health and general well-being, compared with those who increased their time using the device or did not exercise outdoors.

Stop using screens at least an hour before bed for better sleep

Dr. Gregory Marcus, associate chair of research cardiology at UCSF Health, studied the relationship between device time and sleep as part of the Health eHeart Study, an ongoing global study with The participants ranged in age from 18 to over 80. He and his team Find that screen use within an hour of bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep and negatively affects both sleep quality and duration.

“For people who have trouble falling asleep, whether sleeping or maintaining sleep, I recommend leaving your phone in another room,” says Marcus. “Make it difficult to access your phone so you don’t reach it naturally.”

Take a break every 20 minutes to be good for your eyes

Excessive screen use can also damage the eyes. Megan Collins, associate professor of ophthalmology at Johns, says many adults now suffer from digital eye strain, a condition caused by focusing on close-up objects — like a phone screen — for too long that can leads to eye strain, eye pain and blurred vision, says Dr. Megan Collins, associate professor of ophthalmology at Johns Wilmer Eye Institute of Hopkins Medicine. Some original research also suggests that excessive screen time during the pandemic may even lead to increased rates of myopia, or nearsightedness.

Collins says ophthalmologists often tout the benefits of the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes you look at a screen, give your eyes a 20-second break by focusing on something. at a distance of 20 feet or more. “It helps the eyes stay out of a state of prolonged stay and focus on things that are close by,” she says.

Set an even lower limit for yourself if you’re a parent

Recent research have found that excessive screen time can have adverse effects on children’s memory, attention, communication, and social and language skills. And parents teach how much screen time is acceptable by e.g. one learn published in a magazine BMC Public Health found that adults who limit their screen time are more likely to limit their children’s screen time as well.

“Not only the presence of rules and restrictions on screen time, but also support through a low adult pattern of screen use,” the study authors write. “Parents with low screen time patterns are more likely to impose stricter rules on screen time for their children. Conversely, if parents themselves are heavy screen users, their efforts to impose screen time limits on children are likely to fail.”

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