It’s Time to Take Back Control of Our Online Lives

Around this time last year, we learned the majority of consumers surveyed felt the time they spent on electronic devices could be damaging their health. That was well before 2020 forced so many of us to spend even more time online, both for work and personal reasons.

In a Two Sides NA 2019 study, 49% of US consumers said they spent too much time on their electronic devices … I suspect that number would be a lot higher if the same group was asked again now.

A certain amount of screen time is unavoidable this year. So many people are working remotely, learning remotely, staying connected to family … it’s a really tough time to embrace digital minimalism in any significant way. 

Still, the impacts of too much screen time are real, according to the report, and include:

  • Eye strain symptoms like headaches, double vision, blurred distance vision, irritated or burning eyes, dry eyes and tired eyes.
  • An alarming rise in myopia reported by eye care professionals
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Even a correlation between high screen use in children with higher incidents of attention deficiencies

What can we do when so much online time is required of us? For me, the key has been awareness … being mindful of when the “work” is done and then getting away from the screen. There are a lot of ways you can do this. 

Regain your social media sanity with this one simple fix. Avoid scrolling in the evening and in bed, and instead pick up a print book … you’ll avoid the blue light eye strain, and it will help you sleep better. Put down your phone; there’s really no reason to keep it in your hip pocket all day. And when your phone is nearby (like when you are working, for example), turn off social media and app notifications. Their idea of “urgent news” generally only benefits them, by getting you to re-engage. (And really, is the fact that your Kohl’s dollars expire this week urgent enough to warrant the 15-20 minute rabbit hole you’ll undoubtedly fall into?)

It comes down to mindfulness, my friends. Yes, we are committed to a certain amount of screen time daily to meet our obligations. Be aware of what’s necessary, versus what’s just a bad habit. And whenever you can opt for print. Your brain, eyes and mental state will thank you.