In today's digital world, where screens are ubiquitous, it's not always easy to spend quality time with the people we love. And yet, we can connect with people more easily and quickly than ever before, from anywhere on the planet! This paradox demonstrates that while technology is a great tool for keeping in touch with those we care about, it will never completely replace the human contact that is so essential to our well-being. Here are some tips to help you limit the harmful effects of screens on your health.
Set time limits
A simple and effective way to reduce screen time and increase quality time with your family is to ban the use of electronic devices after a certain time in the evening and before a certain time in the morning. Block off specific hours, and most importantly, try hard to respect them.
For example, you might decide to turn off your phone just before dinner and not turn it back on until 9 a.m. the next morning. Putting your phone away during meals is a good habit to get into. With no distractions, the meal will feel more enjoyable! You'll eat more slowly and will probably have more interesting conversations with your eating companions. And instead of checking out your Facebook or Instagram feed in bed before going to sleep, opt for a good book. Your body will feel more relaxed, which will improve the quality of your sleep and decrease your stress levels.
Limiting your screen time will allow you to spend more quality time with your family members and be fully present around them. You'll likely see immediate improvements in your physical, mental, and social well-being when you commit to this habit.
Screen limits for children
Keep these three recommendations in mind.
- Children under the age of 2 should not be exposed to screens.
- Daily screen time for children between the ages of 2 and 5 shouldn't exceed one hour.
- Adults, teens, and tweens should limit their screen time to about two hours a day.
Limit the effects of blue light
Increased exposure to the blue light generated by screens disrupts healthy sleep cycles and slows the production of melatonin, a hormone involved in sleep regulation. Because we are spending more time than ever staring at screens, the harmful effects of blue light on our health are increasing, especially in children and teenagers.
In addition to disrupting sleep, blue light can also cause the following issues:
- Disruption of the circadian rhythm (your body's internal clock)
- Eye issues, such as cataracts or dry eye syndrome
- Deterioration of the retina (macular degeneration)
- Vision problems, such as myopia
- Significant visual fatigue
A few smart tips
When used responsibly, blue light is not all bad. For example, it can stimulate concentration and memory. To prevent its harmful effects, we recommend that you adopt these smart practices:
- Reduce the brightness level of your screens to the bare minimum to reduce eye strain, especially in the dark.
- Choose warmer indoor lighting options (more natural and welcoming). Cool white tones should be avoided.
- Buy blue light blocking glasses or lenses for longer computer sessions.
- Try using low blue light bulbs.
- And most importantly, take frequent screen breaks!
Whether for work or entertainment, sitting in front of a screen will always be a sedentary activity. And a sedentary lifestyle can cause excess weight. Not surprisingly, there is a causal link between obesity in youth and screen time.
To prevent weight gain, obesity, and related health issues, the solution is to put your video game or show on pause and give yourself time to move. You can even try combining work and play by exercising in front of your favourite TV show! That said, it's still critical to do physical activity out in the fresh air in order to clear your mind. And don't forget to get the kids involved!
After you've done some exercise, screen time will suddenly feel more satisfying!
Work on your posture
Tilting your head forward to read a text message (text neck), slouching at the computer, or sitting in front of a screen for hours on end are everyday examples of how screens can cause pain, especially in the neck, shoulders, and back. Many of us adopt bad posture in front of screens without realizing it. Working on your posture when using screen devices could save you a few visits to your physiotherapist or chiropractor!
The next time you use your phone, tablet, or computer, consider these best practices for your posture.
In front of the computer
- Place it directly in front of you.
- Raise it to eye level (your head should be straight).
- If you're working with two monitors, space them evenly in front of you to minimize neck movement.
- Tilt the backrest back slightly to support your lower back.
- Adjust the height and tilt so that your feet rest flat on the floor (use a footrest if the chair is too high).
- When sitting, make sure your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Adjust the height of the armrests so that your shoulders are relaxed.
Keyboard and mouse
- Raise the keyboard so that it is slightly below elbow level.
- When handling the mouse, keep your hand in a straight line with your forearm.
Remember to vary your posture from time to time throughout the day (e.g., by working standing up), vary your tasks when possible, and take frequent short breaks.
Print your photos to preserve memories
With the ever-improving performance of our smartphone cameras, it's never been easier to capture every magical moment. As a result, our digital cameras are jammed with hundreds of photos. But do you ever take the time to look at them and relive those precious memories? Too often, this step is overlooked! One of the most rewarding things about photography is looking at and sharing the images with your loved ones.
If a photo is worth keeping, it's also worth printing. This is especially true for photos that immortalize time spent with family and friends. Keeping a physical archive of your photos is a great way to relive special moments in your life.
Take the time to print your favourite photos and put them in frames or albums. Not only are printed photos a great way to personalize your decor, they also show your loved ones how important they are to you and how much you value the time you spend together.