In the weeks since sheltering in place became the norm, digital technology has become harder to avoid. People already spent significant chunks of the day staring at the distracting blue light of a phone, computer, or TV screen. Now, with the limitations of social distancing, technology is more prevalent than ever.
Work meetings happen via video call. Ditto for "hanging out" with people who aren't immediate family members or roommates. The siren calls of Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu await at the end of each day.
Recent medical studies have looked into the potential side effects of increased technology usage, and the answers are not always encouraging.
Amid these concerns, it might behoove many to be thinking about ways to limit screen time. A new article in The Wall Street Journal shares promising techniques on how to do so.
Take a cyclical approach: 20 minutes on, five minutes off, and so forth. According to a businessman the Journal cites, one should take a lengthier break following several repetitions of the cycle. A timer helps facilitate the process. It could be a wristwatch with alarm capability or a simple kitchen timer.
For every 20 minutes spent in front of a screen, spend 20 seconds looking at something else. It doesn't matter what the thing is, as long as it's at least 20 feet away. A timer similarly offers help here. Science backs this recommendation. The idea that screens harm vision is an old wives' tale. However, other complications can arise, such as temporary blurred vision, eye strain, or dry eyes, unless precautions are taken.
Breaks with Exercise
Getting one's steps in for the day can mean time away from the blue light. People who own Fitbits or analogous devices have an advantage. Anyone can track their physical activity on a smartphone. The Journal article suggests attaching precise goals to time increments. For example, program a goal of 200 steps per hour into settings. The device will give notifications, providing a reminder to get up and spend some time off-screen.
Blue Light Glasses
A number of companies sell eyewear that filters blue light at affordable prices. They don't necessarily require a doctor's prescription. A lot of the designs look stylish as well!
Listen to a podcast instead of reading an article or watching the news on TV. Dictate emails and documents instead of writing the words out manually. Turn video off on a Zoom call and only talk and listen for a while. Turn the display off. Read print copies of books.
There are any number of alternative ways of accomplishing tasks that don't involve screens. The important thing is thinking creatively and not being afraid to try new things. That's the way to figure out what works on a personal level.