How Much Is Too Much Screen Time?

If you are like many Americans, checking your phone is one of the first things you do when you wake up, and you continue to view screens often throughout the day. In fact, a 2018 NielsenĀ survey found that the average American adult spends more than 10 hours daily using television, computer, tablet, game console, and phone screens. That is more time than the average American spends sleeping. Nearly one-third of Americans report that they are online almost constantly (per Pew Research Center).

Children aren't far behind, with an average screen time of between 4-6 hours for children ages 8-12, and an average screen time of up to 9 hours for teens, according to The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

This clearly isn't the healthiest behavior. A 2017 study published in Preventive Medicine ReportsĀ found that people were more likely to have depression if they used screens for more than 5 hours per day. Moreover, a 2018 study published in The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that people who limited social media use to 30 minutes per day experienced less loneliness and depression over time.

Why and how to limit your screen time

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, experts recommend limiting screen time to 2 hours per day, and to spend more time being physically active instead. Too much screen time is associated with an array of health issues, such as obesity (via Pediatrics), as well as anxiety and insomnia (via Sleep). Furthermore, people who spend a lot of time using screens may be more likely to develop nearsightedness (per The Lancet), and children might develop behavioral problems (via Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics).

If you want to cut back on your screen time, Reid Health recommends turning off unnecessary notifications and, when you do use screens, setting a timer to remind you to get off your device and do something physically active. Since many people find themselves mindlessly scrolling on their phones before they go to sleep and when they wake up, you may also want to keep your phone away from your bed. You might want to even keep it outside of your bedroom, and use an alarm clock instead of your phone to wake up in the morning.