Screen-Life Balance

Apr 22, 2020

Screen-Life Balance
By Tabitha Hochscheid, Hochscheid & Associates LLC
Health and Well Being Committee Chair 

One essential element of most of our days is technology. Before COVID-19, we could balance hours in front of our PC at the office with downtime at home. Now, we need technology to stay connected. It has become essential to maintain relationships and our financial well-being.  

Staying connected to others via the use of our phones, PCs and tablets is critical as we struggle to be productive at home, appearing in court via apps and interfacing with our employees, family, friends and colleagues. For those homeschooling their children, we must manage screen time for online-based education resources against the established time limits on devices. We’re trying to achieve a healthy middle ground.

In many ways, our lives are being maintained and we are surviving a global pandemic because we have technological resources to hold meetings and to help educate our children. But all this access comes at a cost. How much screen time is healthy? What are some strategies to use it wisely, especially for our children? Given that much childhood anxiety is based upon the use or misuse of social media, it’s important to set and enforce limitations on their use.

Take the Smartphone Compulsion Test to see if you might have an issue with healthy screen-life balance. Of course, I scored in the high range. Considering the current crisis, my screen usage has definitely increased. I think we have all been on our devices a little more than is healthy since March 1. 

Some psychological symptoms of overuse of our devices include:

·         A need to use the device more and more often in order to achieve the same desired effect.

·         Persistent failed attempts to use the device less often.

·         Preoccupation with device use.

·         Turns to the device when experiencing unwanted feelings such as anxiety or depression.

·         Excessive use characterized by loss of sense of time.

·         Has put a relationship or job at risk due to excessive device use.

·         Need for newest cell phone, device, more applications, or increased use.

·         Withdrawal, when cell phone or network is unreachable: Anger, Tension, Depression, Irritability.

If you find yourself or your children having any of these symptoms, perhaps it is time to curb your use of technology. If your phone is affecting your memory, creativity, productivity, attention span, relationships, and sleep, you may want to decrease its use. I personally think that exposure to news online and to social media can increase the anxiety I feel about current events.

Last week, I began rationing my phone use. I attempted to ration my news exposure to twice a day for 10 minutes. I set a similar limit with my social media time: 10 minutes, two or three times a day. I started noticing when using my phone made me feel anxious and I put the phone down. Yet, I was still on my phone more than I should be.

It has long been my practice to not check emails after 6 p.m. at night. I often turn off the notifications on my phone including the ringer while working. These habits were renewed. Finally, I added a meditation app and a podcast app both of which help me stay off the news and social media apps on my phone.

This week I decided to get some expert support from Catherine Price, the author of “How to Break Up with Your Phone”. She also runs a website called Screen/Life Balance, where you can sign up for a 7-Day Phone Breakup Challenge, free survival kits to assist with device-free dinners and 24-hour tech breaks, or join the Quarantine Challenge. Today, I got my first email in the 7-Day Breakup Challenge. Wish me luck.