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The Downside of Digital Screen Time

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We enjoy the convenience of cell phones. First, they were just portable phones, then they grew in functionality and our time on them increased as well. We can access the internet and apps are continually created for social media, news, weather, games and so much more. We can reach more people, but yet engage less in the dynamic of “live” conversation. Teens that grew up with phones are worse, texting back and forth with a friend sitting next to them! It hasn’t been good for our well-being. With the rise of digital device use, there has been an increase in anxiety and depression, difficulty focusing and with memory, less socializing, and interference in the quality of sleep. There are good things about modern technology, but for many people it has been degrading their quality of life.  It’s time to cut back on screen time of phones, tablets, computers and TVs, and engage more in relationships and life. Sometimes the best motivation can be knowing the why it is harmful.

Technology affects our sleep.  Our bodies run on a 24-hour circadian rhythm determined by the light from the rising and setting of the sun. Digital devices emit a blue light that interferes with nature’s cues that it is night and time to release melatonin needed for quality sleep. Our body goes through a repair and regeneration at night while we are asleep, especially in the brain. It is best to turn off electronics a couple hours before bed, ideally. At least start with devices off by 8 or 9pm. Get in the habit of reading instead. Get some quality prayer time in. If you keep a phone near the bed, make sure it is in airplane mode to cut down on EFT exposure.

Technology affects our attention.  When we find ourselves waiting or needing a break, instead of striking up a conversation with someone or looking at the world around us, out come the smartphones.  Social Media platforms are designed to hook us into scrolling and scrolling, and studies show that the technology has made us less empathetic to other’s needs. We are wired for real human connection, something devices cannot replace. Decide to make time to call people more and text less. Set a time limit and times of day that you check your phone apps. Some families have made meals and game night a time to connect to practice the art of conversation with no phones allowed. Some also make Sunday a no phone day. Do you feel addicted? A study found doing a camping trip without using devices is a great reset. Nature can be soothing and healing.

Technology affects our memory. Having the internet at our fingertips has caused us to become used to instant gratification and information overload. Journalists have been directed to write shorter articles, and speakers to limit the length of their presentations because of shorter attention spans. If there is a particular fact or piece of information you vaguely remember but can’t quite grasp, what do we do? Instead of taking the time and effort to access the memory, we do an internet search. Outsourcing the tasks of how to get to a place you visit by using GPS or setting a reminder of birthdays lets the brain get lazy. So does engaging in the same digital games. So, take pause and challenge yourself to remember things you know, to retell the highlights of a presentation/sermon you recently heard, play a memory game with others. Take up dancing lessons, learning a language or a new hobby. The more we challenge ourselves to keep learning, the better neuroplasticity and memory access we will have as we get older.

 

Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us.  Hebrews 12:1

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