Last year, and by the looks of it, this year has forced many of us to work from home, learn from home and socialise from home all with the help of technology.
So, it is no surprise that thanks to the pandemic, many of us have become more reliant on our cell phones, laptops and televisions… Dare we say we may even be addicted.
How has our technology use changed?
Ofcom data shows that lockdown caused a surge in streaming with the UK spending on average 40% of their day using online streaming services and television.
During lockdown’s peak in April last year UK residents watched around six hours and 25 minutes of content each day, averaging out to around 45 hours of screen time per week.
These trends were especially high within the age ranges of 16-34 who opted to spend their days watching Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+
Not only that but an estimated 12 million people subscribed to an extra streaming service during this time. While this may prove that there really never is anything good on TV, our habits reek of a darker reality. We may be dependant on our screens.
And streaming services aren’t the only way we’ve been spending our time as overall smartphone usage was also up by 30% worldwide from the year previous, with the top 20% of smartphone users spending an average of four and a half hours per day on their phone.
Now while lockdown meant not spending so much time outdoors or with friends, there has to be something else to do other than stare at our screens!
Signs of screen addiction
Understanding our relationship with our screens can be frightening but it is wise to look out for signs of screen addiction such as:
- Constantly checking your devices
- Craving your screens
- Experiencing a negative change in moods such as irritability or anxiety when your screen is taken away
- Screen time getting in the way of work, school or relationships
- Screen time getting in the way of hobbies and physical activities
- Screen time negatively affecting your sleep patterns
Otherwise, many devices will allow you to check how much time spent on screen. All you need to do is go into ‘Settings’ and click on ‘Screen Time’. This will show you your daily and weekly average screen time as well as what apps you use the most.
Remember if you feel like you are experiencing screen addiction it is always wise to consult a healthcare or mental healthcare professional.
Healthy screen habits
If you think you’re maybe spending too much time in front of a screen or if you’re looking to avoid that situation, there are some habits you can undertake for a healthier lifestyle.
- Restrict your morning phone usage by using alarm clocks and not keeping your phone by your bed.
- The same goes for before bed. Screens can affect our sleep patterns so it’s best to avoid it before sleeping
- Have a lunch break. Chances are many of us are working from home on our laptops so avoiding screens at lunchtime gives us a proper break to go for a walk or read a book.
- Take a ‘social media break’. Many of us spend too much time looking at Facebook and Instagram so taking some scheduled time away can help us avoid some screen time.
- Use your phone to schedule ‘breaks’. Under the ‘Screen Time’ option in our phone’s settings, we can schedule downtime as well as app limits which can help us cut down on app usage.
- Screen-free days. This one is a challenge but a day or so away from screens can help us reconnect with our other hobbies.
For more information on screen addiction and our relationship with screenscheck out this resource here.