We all know too much screen time is bad for us, but what if
your job requires long and intensive screen usage?
It’s difficult, because most of us are aware of the health
issues of too much screen time: the impact on our mental health, our physical
health and of course our vision. It disrupts our sleep, our ability to
concentrate and increases our risk of chronic disease due to lack of physical
Yet often our work is online, our friends are online, and
increasingly our leisure time is online. Even exercise is often through an
It is become harder since the pandemic, when so many of us
switched to working from home. Even with breaks, it has become easy and normal
to be on screens for 12 or more hours a day. Studies show that on average, use
of digital devices increased by five hours a day for adults, an increase of
60-80 per cent.
So what can we do about it?
The answer is to develop healthy digital habits, says Doreen
Dodgen-Magee, PsyD and author of Deviced!: Balancing Life and Technology in
a Digital World.
1. First, measure.
Dodgem-Magee recommends first documenting how you are
spending your time. Apps are designed to be addictive, and it can be extremely
difficult to pull yourself away from a device and extremely easy to scroll
Track every 15 minutes for a few days. Note down what you
are doing and what device you are doing it on. It seems like a lot of work, but
it will save you hours in the long run.
2. Do what you need to do and get out.
It is tempting to reward yourself for completing a task by
allowing yet more screen time. Make sure the breaks you take and rewards you
give yourself are off-screen.
3. Take breaks.
A five-minute break every 25 minutes is a good guide, with
at least two longer breaks every day. And as above, move away from that screen
to take your break. Get up and move your body, even if it is just rolling your
shoulders or walking around a bit.
4. Create screen free zones.
When working from home, Dodgen-Magee recommends having zones
in your homes where tech is not allowed. This could be the bedroom or the
bathroom, for example, or the kitchen. You can then carry this through to after
work hours, to give yourself time away from screens in the evening.