Wherever we go, I see people who spend more on the screen than on what’s before them. In a concert, you will find many people recording the concert using their mobile phones that take the time to enjoy and be present.

I remember when LeBron James made the all-time scoring record, people choose to look at their screens to record history than to watch history as it happened.

When we go to restaurants, we often choose ones with free wifi. It seemed to me that wifi is the new oxygen. 

It’s hard to imagine life without screens. We use them for work, school, entertainment, and staying connected with loved ones. But too much screen time can lead to problems. So, how do we create a balanced life and keep our mental health

Let’s dive in.

5 Ways to Keep A Healthy Digital Life

Understanding Screen Time

Firstly, we need to understand what screen time is. 

Simply put, screen time is the time we spend in front of screens – computers, smartphones, tablets, and TVs. While these tools are helpful, too much of anything is not good. 

Excessive screen time can lead to tired eyes, headaches, and less time for other important activities like exercising or spending time with family and friends.

This is nothing new, of course.

When I was young, my parents warned us children to stay away from TV when watching. We also have to limit our watching time.

We did not know that one way, children will spend more time on their screens that playing physical games with other kids. Not only that children’s eyes are now very close to screens, they are probably spending three times longer.

Setting Screen Time Limits

A good way to balance screen time is to set limits. 

For example, you can say, “I will only use my phone for non-work or non-school purposes for two hours a day.” 

Use the built-in features on your devices to help track this. 

On an iPhone, you can use the “Screen Time” feature. On Android, it’s “Digital Wellbeing.” 

These features let you see how much time you’re spending on different apps, and you can set limits for each.

At night, I chose not to bring my mobile phones inside the room. 

But I still spend more time on my Mac when writing. For this reason, I bought a Rode II microphone so that I will only record my thoughts and let Loom transcribe them.

I have already cut two hours each time. But I need to cut more time. 

I am able to do that when I listen to podcasts while walking, or while planting vegetables. I also listen to audiobooks instead of reading them on Scribd.com

Making Time for Unplugged Activities

Another key part of balance is making sure you have plenty of offline activities. This could be anything from reading a book to playing a sport, painting, or cooking a new recipe. The idea is to find activities you enjoy that don’t involve screens.

During my first session on free diving, I was not able to use my phone for the whole day. And I did not even think it was necessary to look at it. 

You might decide to spend an hour each evening reading. 

Or, you could choose to take a walk after dinner instead of watching Netflix. These activities give your eyes a break and can also help reduce stress.

Creating Tech-Free Zones

Tech-free zones are areas where screens are off-limits. This might be the dining room table during meals or your bedroom after 9 PM. These zones encourage face-to-face conversation and ensure that screens don’t interfere with restful sleep.

I am yet to convince my wife to do this. She loves watching K-drama. And if you are like us, you know that it is difficult to stop watching a good story.

But without noticing it, bringing mobile phones into the bedroom prevent us from having enough sleep. 

You can have a rule that there are no phones allowed at the dinner table. This encourages everyone to engage in conversation, making meal times a more enjoyable, social experience.

Yes, this is still aspirational for us who got addicted to mobile phones. But we can make this happen when we choose to.

Mindful Use of Technology

Finally, be mindful of how you’re using technology. Are you scrolling through social media because you’re bored, or is it out of habit? Do you pick up your phone the moment you wake up? By being more mindful, you can start to change these patterns.

For example, you might choose to not check your phone for the first hour after you wake up. Or, you might decide to take a five-minute break every hour when you’re working on your computer to rest your eyes and stretch your body.

Apply these tips so you can all achieve a healthier balance between screen time and real life. After all, while technology is a useful tool, it’s important to remember to enjoy life beyond the screen.

Cyber Wellness

This short piece is part of a series on Cyber Wellness. We Filipinos need to become more mindful of our digital life. Having a healthy digital life can also help us become more productive.

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