Adults in the UK spend up to 11 hours per day in front of a screen. Whether it be work, Netflix or social media, we're now spending more time with technology than our family and friends.
When we're on our screens, we aren't connecting with the people around us and social connection is fundamental our mental wellbeing.
We've even coined a phrase for the worst of it: doom scrolling. This describes the tendency to spend hours trawling through bad or negative news stories. Let's face it, the 'I can't look away from the car crash' tendency has been around longer than the technology but now instead of watching the news at a set time, we can scroll endlessly through all sorts of sad stories including all the negative/abusive comments that come with them.
It probably isn't a surprise to hear that research is connecting the frequency, duration and diversity of media exposure to increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. This was never emphasised more than in the recent Covid lockdowns.
And it isn't just your mental fitness that can suffer from excessive screen time, your physical health can suffer too. We often sit for too long, with bad posture when we're working, scrolling or watching our screens. This has long term health effects that we talk about in our blog article; Is sitting really the new smoking?
Have you every wondered how much time you're actually spending on a screen? Your phone might tell you but what above adding computers and tv screens to that number? Try tracking it for a week to see - you can use one of the many apps available to do this for you if that's your thing.
Check in with yourself at the end - work out where the time suck is and think about what else you could have done with the time. Make a plan to regularly take an hour or two to disconnect from work, social media, your TV and emails to focus on the here and now. Read a book, grab a coffee with a friend, go for a walk with a family member or just cozy up for a chat with someone special. The feeling of joy we get from connecting in person to those who are most important to us, is one of our most basic human needs.