As a higher education professional screen time is a fact of life. We spend most of our days in front of computer screens because most of our work production time is spent communicating electronically, writing reports, email, prepping for class, and other rather sedentary and intellectual pursuits. And I know what I signed up for so that is not the argument here. What this post is about is the rest of my day and screen time and how, in the office, I can reduce the amount of and number of hours I am in front of a screen. To reduce the time to what is essential to my work, personal endeavors that are productive and to help reduce the wear and tear on my body as a result of increased screen time. First the facts. According to a number of surveys including Pew Research, Gallup Polling, and US News the average American adult spends between 6.5 – 8 hours a day in front of a screen, And here is the new kicker, I felt that was a little low. I estimate each day that I spend between 10-11 hours in front of a screen. I know this is bad but until recently I was unaware (or was willfully ignoring) how bad this was to my body. The group Rally Heath had an inforgraphic out in 2016 that called sitting the new smoking. More than a few research studies found that the effects of constant sitting does have similar effects as smoking on heart disease, blood clots, and other risk factors for death. Screen time is connected to increased weight, less exercise and has a profound effect on your eyesight. I know, I have graduated to having to wear readers the past couple of years and I know its because of these damn screens.
And I am the worst. I look at phone when I’m in the doctor’s lobby (and not reading those great lobby magazines like Better Homes and Gardens), waiting in line at the store, while I am exercising! I even look at my screens before I go to bed and while (ahem . . . ) in the men’s room. Its really a problem. But my guess is I am not alone. I suspect I am more “normal” that I think. But isn’t that a sucker punch? That the new normal is to look down and not up, to live through a glow?
A recent Pew Research report found that 54% of teens and 36% of adults felt they were physically addicted to their screens. Count me as part of that group and my guess both numbers are grossly under reported. So, what is a guy to do . . . .
- First off, I am working to reduce my screens in places I don’t need them. Like in the bedroom. I am going to move my iPad and phone to another room and just use a regular, old alarm clock to wake me up. When I am in the bedroom, its time to do bedroom things. I will allow myself to read books and do my crossword puzzles.
- Learn more about how screens affect me. Knowledge is power so I started with this Ted Talk . . . .
Ted Talk on Screens
- I am reducing the number of screens in front of me. I am now down to one screen in the office when I had one of those fancy three screen setups. I felt like this for a while . . .
When I was more like this . . . .
I mean, what was I doing.
- I also got one of those fancy standing desks (I am standing as I type this) and using it for 30 minutes of work time per hour.
- Lastly, I am trying to rediscover my hobbies. I am going to the gym more, challenging myself to the 100,000 steps challenge, getting in the yard more, and getting out and about Orlando more by going to the parks, hitting up concerts, and leaving the house. I was spending too much time with my screens and it made me tired and lazy.
The fact is we will never get rid of our screens. They are part of our lives but we need to be more respectful to them and to ourselves. Time to screen the screens.