How to Reduce Your Screen Time

Admin 01 Apr , 2021

Information gathered and prepared by A. Balind MSW, RSW
Clinical Social Worker, Portage Medical Family Health Team

How much time reading or watching the news is too much? How do you know when you have been properly informed?

These questions are often asked and there are no simple solutions; no “one size fits all” exists in this area.  A good way to recognize you have been spending too much time focusing on the media or social media is your anxiety levels.  Typically, experiencing difficulties and of the following can identify increased anxiety:

  • Uncontrollable worry
  • No longer taking part in hobbies, work or activities with family/friends
  • Difficulties with sleep
  • Changes to eating habits
  • Feelings of panic

It is best to speak with your health care provider if you are experiencing these symptoms.  With so much happening in the world right now and news changing rapidly it is important to stay informed.  However, it is also necessary to know how much exposure is too much for you. If you believe these warning signs are related to the amount of time you spend on social media or reading/watching the media here are a few tips to help slow down your use:

  1. Set a time for media sources: outline an hour or less once to three time each day to review media sources. It may be beneficial to set a time to make sure you do not go past the time you have designated to this.  Having specific time carved out each day to revie media sources will allow you to be informed without becoming overwhelmed.
  2. Lock Apps on your phone: there are many different apps that will allow you to choose when you want to be able to access media sources during the day and when it is best that they are kept out of reach. Some of these have a charge for their use while others are free.  Searching “lock apps” wherever you buy/download your apps will give you all of your options.
  3. Turn off notifications: by going into the settings on your phone or computer, you are able to select which apps send you notifications. Turning off the notifications from social media and other media outlets may help to divert your attention to other things.
  4. Practice a hobby: finding another way to occupy your time can help to limit your media use. It is common that people grow in and out of their interests; having many different activities that you enjoy can help to distract you and hold your attention.  Examples are: puzzles, paint by numbers, woodworking, photography, baking/cooking, reading, video games, listening to/playing music, etc.
  5. Lean on a family or friend: accountability is important when starting or breaking a habit. Asking someone you trust to ask you about or point out when you have been spending a great deal of time watching or reading the news or social media may help to change the time you spend.
  6. Find more balance in your life: make sure you are eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. Often times we find ourselves using large periods of time on things that are not healthy for us when our life is out of balance.  Make a healthy routine for yourself and do your best to stick to it.
  7. Reward yourself: this may seem childish and silly, but there is a reason why it works. Treating yourself for finding other ways to spend your time will result in positive feelings, which is something that we all enjoy.  As a result, we will associate positive emotions with time away from social media and news sources making it more likely that it will continue to be avoided in the future.  Rewards or treats can be anything that you enjoy and contributes to your mental and physical health. It can have a cost associated with it or it can be free.  Examples are: taking a bath, having a special snack, putting on a face mask, buying a new item for a hobby, enjoying a cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate, taking some time for yourself to relax, etc.