What do you notice when being out in public? More often than not, most people are on their phones, even when socializing in person. Screen time plays an important role in culture. Recently, screen usage has increased due to various reasons around the world. There is a virtual option for everything, from counseling to college classes. While some screen time has been accommodating, the truth is that excessive screen time can be harmful, especially during recovery.
What Does Screen Time Have to Do With Recovery?
People in recovery must be conscious of how much time they spend in front of a screen. Individuals may want to catch up with friends through social media or entertain themselves with a virtual game. However, this could be a trigger to a previous lifestyle. For example, a post may trigger memories of one’s time in active addiction. Television shows might glorify substance use. Being in contact with someone who still uses might bring on pressure to get back into that lifestyle.
Like the effects of substances, screen time releases dopamine in the brain, which can negatively impact impulse control. Screen time can set off a pleasure and reward cycle that can harm one’s life and sobriety.
3 Harmful Effects of Too Much Screen Time
Most people own several devices within their homes, from big-screen televisions and laptops to smartwatches and the latest cell phone. Many individuals spend more than half of their day in front of one screen or another. Most individuals have learned from a young age how to navigate screen time. What most individuals fail to recognize is the harmful effects that screen time can produce.
First, too much time staring at the screen can cause eye strain, fatigue, and migraines. Research has found that there has been an increase in exposure to screen time in recent years, causing a jump in digital eye strain.
Second, insomnia and poor sleeping patterns can surface when one isn’t careful about limiting screen time. The blue light emitted from screens can be harmful. It tricks the body into thinking it is daylight, and it stops releasing melatonin—the hormone that regulates sleep. Therefore excessive screen time, especially in the evening, can make it difficult to wind down before bed.
Third, when spending time on the screen, people experience decreased physical activity. A stationary lifestyle is traded for being active in daily life. Daily physical activity is important for a healthy lifestyle, and screen time interferes with that.
Understanding that screen time can be an addiction is essential for creating a healthy lifestyle. While spending time scrolling through social media can be entertaining, it can also remind the brain of previous addictive behaviors.
As mentioned above, the rush of the pleasure-inducing dopamine that surfaces when spending time on digital devices activates pleasure centers in the brain. When this artificial rush happens, the brain wants more. This is why many people find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of screen addiction.
What Can Lead to Screen Addiction?
Addiction can be perceived as a biochemical component where the body craves stimulation from the brain’s reward center. The pursuit of gratifying activities results in the release of dopamine. As a result, the body becomes desensitized to the release causing it to need more activity to create the same feeling. As a result, a person may continue to want more of the same experience. The more this happens, the more a person is in danger of digital addiction.
Is It Time for a Detox From the Screen?
If you are questioning whether you are spending too much time in front of a screen, chances are that you are. Experts say that adults should limit screen time to two hours a day outside of work. Any time an individual would spend on screens could be spent on physical activity. This may be a hard concept to process. However, it is possible with a little effort. Below are some tips to help limit screen time:
- Turn off notifications: Shutting notifications off will decrease your urge to check your device.
- Set a timer: Limit yourself to the time spent on screens by setting a timer when you start using your device and shutting the screen off when the timer goes off
- Leave the phone in another room when going to bed: Many people fall asleep in front of a screen or wake up only to immediately look at a screen. This can impede one’s sleep routine and add significant time to daily screen usage.
- Create screen-free spaces: Turn off screens during meals or have a family meeting and discuss areas of the home that must remain screen-free
- Communicate with your family: Gather family support to encourage less screen time and hold each other accountable.
- Be open and honest: Talk to people you trust about time on screens.
With a button click, instant gratification is met with the eyes. Screen time has become a part of everyone’s daily routine, whether it is checked first thing in the morning or the last part of the day. People depend on screen time to escape their world and immerse themselves in entertainment and instant connectivity. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we understand that screen time is easy to immerse yourself in when life gets too hard. We take pride in meeting your right where you are in your recovery journey. Give us a call today at (866) 229-9923 to learn how we can help you combat excessive screen time and overcome addiction.