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The risks of screen time & how to reduce it

Registered Osteopath Karen Robinson recently read a report that said: “Children’s psychological well-being starts to deteriorate after an average one hour of screen viewing per day.

Wow! Did you know that? It seems that a lot of research is saying the same thing.

What counts as screen time?

Screen time includes the use of mobile phones, tablets, computers, electronic devices, games, and television.

High users (at least 7 hours a day) had twice the relative risk for low well-being as low users (1 hour a day).

Low well-being in the study included less curiosity, less self-control and emotional stability, more distractibility, moody, can’t pay attention, more difficulty making friends, and being more difficult to care for.

The effects were more pronounced in adolescents (aged 14 to 17 years) than in younger children. The research found that these youngsters were being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and being prescribed medication for a psychological or behavioural issue.

This is worrying.

Children who spend lots of time on screens can suffer from sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep and have a hyperaroused nervous system.

From another report: “Excessive screen time appears to impair brain structure and function. Much of the damage occurs in the brain’s frontal lobe, which undergoes massive changes from puberty until the mid-twenties. Frontal lobe development, in turn, largely determines success in every area of life—from sense of well-being to academic or career success to relationship skills.”

Screen time affects adults too…

Adults should also be aware of screen time and health. Ask yourself – is your screen time:

  • Interfering with your sleep?
  • Cutting into time with family and friends?
  • Affecting your ability to finish your work?

There is also lots of research that shows that sitting for prolonged periods of time slows the metabolism. This affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat, leading to being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and early death.

12 ways to reduce screen time…

First find out how much time you and your family are using screens, and for how long. Then try these ways to reduce the time involved:

  1. Keep screens out of the bedroom – practice sleep hygiene and create a ‘sleep sanctuary’
  2. Turn down the brightness levels on ALL screens
  3. Go wired and give WIFI the boot
  4. Increase exposure to greenery, nature and sunlight
  5. Incorporate more movement, exercise and free play
  6. Engage in creative play and activities
  7. Don’t eat in front of a screen
  8. Practice mindfulness
  9. Bring on bonding – human touch, empathy and love
  10. Incorporate daily chores for the entire family
  11. Mimic nature’s day/night cycles as closely as possible
  12. If using a screen, take a break every 30 minutes and get up and move around.  Consider if you need to be sitting to do the task. Pay attention to your posture and how you are using your body.

Remember – your posture during your screen time is important. For tips on good posture and how to prevent your technology from causing you pain, talk to the friendly team at Shefford Osteopathic Clinic.

We can help with lifestyle advice and preventative measures to help you live your life and alleviate pain.

The article was written by Karen Robinson, registered osteopath and Clinic founder.