Too much screen time symptoms and their effects
Updated: Aug 8, 2022
We're going to cover all your questions; What's the effects of too much screen time symptoms? What's the the recommended screen time for teenager? What's the average screen time for adults? We'll answer all those and more here in this blog. We'll give you our version of some solutions and ideas to limit certain types of screen time, stop procrastinating and in turn, get active. This is not a point-the-finger-and-judge article, it's simply a resource of facts, stats and ideas to help you make your own decisions on screen time. We all lead very different lives, it would be unfair of anyone to tell you what's right and wrong, so we certainly won't be.
We are going to answer some of the following popular questions about screen time too, based on research, statistics and speaking to real people, our members, and give you our take on them:
What's the recommended screen time for children?
What to look out for the regarding too much screen time symptoms?
What are the negative effects of screen time adults suffer?
What are the 10 reasons why screen time is bad?
What are the positive effects of screen time?
What's the recommended screen time for teenager?
What is screen time on iPhone?
What is the average screen time for adults statistically?
What are the effects of too much screen time for adults?
What's the recommended screen time for 13 year old? Or other ages?
What's the best apps to limit screen time iOS?
Not only will we answer your questions, we'll give you helpful guidance on ways to stay focused, guides on how to check screen time on iOS and even limit it, and recommend books, gurus and other external sources of help we've found.
We are of course a street dance school, so this blog post wouldn't be a true Hip Hop Pop post without some dancing! We've created a new online concept video especially for the subject and we've suitably named it 'Screen Time'. You can find more information on the video and the video itself at the bottom of this blog post.
What sparked the idea for this post about 'Screen Time"?
The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown had placed enormous focus on how we use our smart devices. The heaviest shift in reasons for use include education, staying in touch with loved ones and using them as a 'supposed' remedy to boredom.
As a dance company we've noticed a real divide in motivation for using our live-streamed-services compared to pre-lockdown in-studio sessions and a big shift-up in parents concern for their children's mental wellbeing
These noticeable changes drew us to look at the subject of screen time and associated motivation and mental health in greater detail, we are sharing our finding with you in this post.
What is Screen Time?
Screen time is the time spent using devices with display screens, such as smart phones, computers, TV and video game consoles. Any time your attention is placed on such devices you're clocking up screen time.
Studies show how screen time can directly impact children's development, physical and mental health. These effects are proven to directly correlate to the content, context and length of exposure on these devices. We're also going to look at the effects of too much screen time for adults. However, screen time can be utilised for positive rewards too, contrary to popular opinion, there are positive effects of screen time for children, and positive effects of screen time for adults too. There are many conflicting opinions all over the net, here's our take on it all, let's look at both sides of that coin:
First let's look at our why screen time is perceived to be bad, including the negative effects of screen time adults and kids should consider
Top 10 reasons why screen time is bad:
1. Screen time can be bad for your physical health
2. Your sleep is affected
3. It weakens communication skills
4. Screen time can cause inattention in later life
5. Screen time can cause poor memory
6. Screen time is linked to poor self esteem and depression
7. Too much screen time can cause computer vision syndrome
8. Procrastination and lack of productivity
9. Screen time can equal anti-social behaviour
10. Screen time can change to shape of your brains cortex
Read on for further detail...
1. Screen Time can be bad for your physical health
We're saying 'can be', because we're not talking here about Zoom dance classes, or Instagram live Yoga sessions, we're talking stationary device uses; watching the TV, playing a video game, scrolling the gram, these are sedentary activities and require next to no physical exertion. This directly affects fitness levels and in turn puts your body at more risk of fitness related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes, therefore number 1 on our list is one of the most detrimental negative effects of screen time adults and kids alike may suffer in our opinion.
2. Your sleep is affected
Using your phone before you go to bed or in bed means not only have you wasted valuable sleep time scrolling, but it statistically takes 10 minutes longer to get off to sleep after looking at a light emitting screen such as your phone. Not only that, it messes with your Circadian Rhythm - The cycle that tells the body when to sleep, by suppressing the release of melatonin that controls that Circadian Rhythm.
3. It weakens communication and social skills
'Viewer Passivity' is a natural result of most screen time uses. It's one of the key drivers behind the weakened communication and social skills. 'Viewer passivity' is where images and suggestions are implanted into our minds without the need for our participation such as watching TV, which inhibits and suppressed our natural capability to communicate. Even background TV reduces interaction:
A recent study found parents say about 200 words or less to their children in an hour if the TV is on compared to the 1000 words an hour if the TV is off. - Mindd Foundation
4. Screen time can cause Inattention in later life
Studies show that if young children are exposed to rapid image changes such as those on most TV shows today, they would most likely find real-time events in ordinary life, such as a teacher discussing subjects in front of them, dull, slow, or boring. This triggers them to talk and disturb their classmates for example. The stimulation from rapid images pre-conditions the mind to expect high levels of stimulation in every day life interactions, thus causing inattention.
5. Screen time can cause poor memory and linguistic delays in young children
Research indicates that excessive screen time is associated with linguistic delays and poor memory performance in young children. Young children learn key communication skills by watching and emulating the facial expressions, body movements and tone of voice of people. Watching people on TV just doesn’t have the same impact, they need real life lessons in communication simply by watching us adults communicate. Now the questions: 'what's the recommended screen time for children' or 'what's the recommended screen time for adults', feel redundant when you consider them in the context of these effects here in point 5 of our 'top ten reasons why screen time is bad' list. How much time do we spend not communicating at all, and therefore not teaching? What a responsibility we're not appreciating. Food for thought.
6. Screen time is linked to low self-esteem and depression
Professors at San Diego State University discovered that after only one hour of screen time daily, children and teens begin to have less curiosity, lower self-control, less emotional stability and a greater inability to finish tasks.
"Adolescents who spend more than seven hours a day on screens were twice as likely as those spending one hour to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression"
That's the science side of it, but let's face it we've all been there, when you're scrolling social media and you come across a post that makes you angry, a post that makes you sad, or a post that makes you feel like you're not good enough or your life is inferior. This is toxic to our mental wellbeing.
When a member of our dance crew was feeling the effects of social media on her mental health, she began a new profile, only following pages and accounts full on positivity, inspiration and self-love promoting posts, what a brilliant way to turn the negative effects of too much screen time for adults into some positive effects of screen time.
I follow entrepreneur Steven Bartlett, the 27 year old CEO of Social Chain and public speaker on all things business and mental wellness (check out his 2021 book here). He tweeted this back in January and it really resonated with me, does it you?
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7. Too much screen time can cause Computer Vision Syndrome
Staring into a screen for extended periods of time can cause “computer vision syndrome.” Some classic too much screen time symptoms: Strained, dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. Poor posture can also cause neck and shoulder pain. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a condition resulting from focusing the eyes on a computer or other display device for protracted, uninterrupted periods of time and the eye muscles being unable to recover from the strain due to a lack of adequate sleep.
8. Procrastination and lack of productivity
This one I'm sure nearly all of us can resonate with. Procrastinating is the act of delaying, postponing or avoiding an action, therefore leading to lack of productivity in the task or action you was 'supposed' to be doing. I can speak about this one personally. I have an adventurous to-do list each day, I'll list tasks in order of importance / deadline. However that order falls apart when I hit the 'big-tasks', naturally I procrastinate. I grab my phone, check my social media notifications, check my emails, hell, I might even pop onto Spotify and start making class playlists - anything to subconsciously avoid the big task. What's my go to tool of procrastination? My phone, hours can pass procrastinating staring at the wrong screen. Do you find the same happens to you?
Later in this blog we'll look at what is screen time on iPhone? What are the best apps to limit screen time iOS? We'll look at these tools to give you practical ways to help reduce procrastination!
9. Screen time can equal anti-social behaviour
When I say anti-social behaviour, I don't mean hanging on street corners, causing havoc, I mean the really important stuff; time, time with friends and family. I'm sure many of us can recall a time we had a family meal and at some point grabbed our phone to check for social media notifications, a work email, and lost time scrolling, when we should be spending that time fully engaging with our loved ones.
This one, I personally feel, is one of saddest effects of too much screen time for adults. Don't look back and regret! If I could go back in time, I'd put my phone away every time I visited my mum, as that's time I no longer get with her, I can't get that back. I don't want to lose time with anyone else to a screen.
10. Screen time could change shape of your brains cortex
A new and ongoing study supported by the NIH found that some pre-teens who clocked over seven hours a day on screens had differences in parts of their brains compared to kids who spent less time on screens.
The Cortex is the region responsible for processing information from our five senses.
Usually, our cortex gets thinner as we mature. But these kids had thinner cortices earlier than other kids who spent less time on screens. Scientists aren't sure what this could mean for how the kids learn and behave later in life. But the same data also showed that kids who spent more than 2 hours a day on screens scored lower on thinking and language skill tests
(This is an exact extract from the article).
Point 10 here on our top 10 reasons why screen time is bad list, really hits home the fact that most of the points in this list are not visually noticeable effects immediately or even if at all, making them harder to spot and address. Point ten here is a visual effect, yet as it's inside our body we still can't 'see it', again how do we notice and address?
10 reasons why screen time is bad summary:
I know personally, most of these points resonate with me and my own experiences or at least the concerns and values I'm on board with. How about you? Has it changed the way you feel about screen time compared to before you started to read point 1 on our top ten reasons why screen time is bad list? The physical and mental effects on us and our loved ones listed above make for good motivation to make a screen time change.
Of course it's not all negative, there's plenty of positive effects of screen time too, here's our
Top 5 positive effects of screen time:
1. It's an amazing tool for communication
2. There are Healthful behaviour apps
3. Active rather than passive screen time can be good for physical and cognitive health
4. Screen time is essential in adapting to 'lockdown'
5. Screen time can lead to a career
1. It's an amazing tool for communication
Covid-19 lockdown would feel very different without technology in terms of communicating with our loved ones. Zoom, FaceTime, HouseParty, Skype and many other platforms have allowed us all to stay connected through one of the strangest times in the 21st Century to date.
Some of our students even noted, when questioned, that they actually chat to their friends more than they did pre-lockdown and feel those relationships are now stronger. Those questioned noted that they found it easier to find time to get together over video chat, as travel time, getting ready time and money all factor into making in-person meet ups a little harder to do regularly.
2. Healthful behaviour apps
Amongst the sea of procrastination inducing games and social media platforms, there are apps available that encourage healthy behaviours such as ones for regular exercise and healthier food choices. One favourite amongst my friends is the Couch to 5K app. Using these apps to train to become the UK's next Mo Farah surely has to be one of the most positive effects of screen time!
3. Active screen use rather than passive can be good for physical and cognitive health
“how children use the devices, not how much time they spend on them, is the strongest predictor of emotional or social problems connected with screen addiction.”
Knowing which screen time activities are passive and which are active is the key to spinning screen time into a positive. Passive screen time examples are scrolling social media, watching TV or YouTube. Active screen uses include Physical video game consoles such as Xbox Kinect or Nintendo Switch, active screen games have similarities in benefits to walking or jogging.
Activities that encourage imagination and participation such as learning to code, creating music and writing stories are brilliant for improving cognitive skills.
4. Screen time is essential in adapting to lockdown
Imagine you are a member of our dance school. You usually attend 2 dance classes a week with us, you like to catch up with your friends at classes and get your weekly exercise in there too. Then Covid-19 lockdown hits - should your dance training stop?
Absolutely not! Screens and the devices they are on, allow us to keep training, not only continuing your skill progression, but keeping you exercising and staying physically healthy. It means you're still releasing endorphins that make you feel great, looking after your mental health, and giving you the chance to connect with your friends whom you are used to dancing with.
Without that time on screen, our physical and mental wellbeing would almost certainly deteriorate. Thank goodness for Zoom!!!
5. Screen time leading to a career
The information technology (I.T.) industry is a 2.3 billion GBP industry. There are, at the time of writing this post, approx 1'500'000 I.T. jobs in the UK alone. Screen time is a necessity in order to learn the skills to join this industry. You can't learn how to use a computer if you don't look at one! What about other jobs: retail, admin, marketing? Screen time is essential for them all.
What's our conclusion to the pros and cons of screen time, after noting our 'top 10 reasons why screen time is bad' and our 'positive effects of screen time' lists?
Like most things in life, there's two sides to every story, so what's the answer, is screen time good or bad? We think the answer is not about screen 'TIME', it's screen 'ACTIVITY' that's that real deciding factor. If you spend 7 hours looking at a screen, 4 hours of that are working on your novel, 2 hours of that are connecting with family who you can't get to and the final 2 hours you're taking part in our street dance classes over Zoom, those are positives that far outweigh the negatives in our opinion. Compare that to spending 7 straight hours scrolling instagram and watching YouTube's trending vids! Not so good. But that's common sense right? Yet we still find ourselves drawn to the dreaded 'scroll after scroll'.
Here's what some of our students and parents had to say on their views of screen time through lockdown and the effects of too much screen time for adults and kids
"Regarding screen time as a parent, I feel like their whole lives are screen dominated at the moment because even their education is now learning through a screen at virtual school. It’s so easy to lose hours watching YouTube videos, playing games or scrolling social media. It’s a double edged sword for kids as it is connecting them but isolating them at the same time. There’s good and bad but a balance is essential. We have arguments but I think they are worth having for the greater good!" - Parent of 15 year old
"My screen time has shot up drastically and not for the good. I'm constantly checking social media which has had a negative impact on my mental health, seeing all the heartbreaking videos causing me sleepless nights. It has taken time away from my children, I’ve now taken all social media notifications off of my phone and will only look at it in the morning before the kids are up or after they have gone to bed. It is a struggle as I constantly want to look at my phone but I think limiting my use is for the best." - Adult student and mum of 2
"I do feel like I have used more screen time and it makes me sad, like I’ve wasted time and I can’t take back that time." - Teenage student
"I feel like my screen time has increased which I don’t like because I think it is detrimental to my productivity and general well-being" - Adult student
"My TV screen time has deceased but phone & laptop screen time has increased. I've tried to use it in a positive way, to do online courses & set up an online business. It's also been great for keeping in contact with family and friends & I've grown" - Adult Student
Let's answer some of those key screen time questions we mentioned at the start of our blog...
What are typical too much screen time symptoms?
Too much screen time symptoms are, on the most part, easy to spot, but also difficult to categorise as 'screen time' effects, as most are common in other causes too.
Overstimulation is one of the first signs of screen time effects, traits include: aggression, crying, can't sit still, emotional shutdown, irritability, defiant behaviour. These signs can also have many other causes and screen time may just exacerbate that cause.
If a child continually prefers screen time to face-to-face interaction this is a possible sign of too much screen time symptoms, causing anti-social behaviour.
Strained eyes, dry eyes, blurred vision or headaches can all be possible signs of too much screen time symptoms and specifically computer vision syndrome (see point 7 on our list of top 10 reasons why screen time is bad for more info and further reading).
All of the above symptoms are 'possible symptoms' according the research and websites we've referenced, please seek a doctors advice should you have any concerns.
What is recommended screen time for teenager?
Firstly before we try to answer that or what the recommended screen time is for children of any age, please note our answer is based on Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) research and The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), yet there are other publications who oppose these recommendations. Please read this as simply one point of view. Screen Time recommendations depend on the context and content of that screen time, but as a guide, here's what the AAP recommends in short:
Recommended screen time for children under 18 months = avoid all screen time
Recommended screen time for children age 18-24 months = introduce screen time
Recommended screen time for children age 2 to 5 = up to 1 hour per day
Recommended screen time for children age 6+ = place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviours essential to health.
Got a teenager? What's the recommended screen time for 13 year old, what's the recommended screen time for teenager? What's the recommended screen time for adults? It's the same answer as above which does not specify an exact period of time, but recommends to filter the types of media where possible, take breaks, ensure screen time doesn't take the place of physical activity, sleep and other essential behaviours.
Let's look back to our list of pros and cons above. Screen 'TIME' isn't so much the question it's Screen 'ACTIVITY', it's what you choose to spend your screen time doing, each activity will have a completely different positive or negative effect. Take the time guidance very loosely and instead consider what the screen activity is, then consider the positive and negative effects of screen time in each instance.
What's the average screen time for adults?
A study by Scripps.org say the average screen time for adults is 11 hours per day! Wow! On average, adults spend about 11 hours a day staring at some kind of screen, whether that be a computer, phone, tablet, TV or another type of electronic device. For office workers, some of that is unavoidable, but that extra recreational screen time isn’t doing any favours.
What is screen time on iPhone?
iScreen time on iPhone is real-time access to reports about how much time you spend on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. It's quite scary to see how much time we spend staring at our devices. A few of our adult dance crew shared screen shots of their phone screen time
What's your weekly screen time? Swipe right on your iPhone (if you have one) as far as you can go, scroll to the bottom (usually located at the bottom). What's your total for the week?
Think of what you could do with that time instead? I want you to stop reading for a moment, ask yourself; what have you put off for so long because you 'haven't got time'? Did you do it? Would you have time for that task if you swapped it for the time you spend on your screen? Food for thought.
Find out more about 'What is Screen Time on iPhone'
How to check screen time on Android
Checking screen time on Android is easy with Digital Wellbeing which is a feature available on most Android smart phones allowing you to see your screen time usage including details like app usage by time, and number of unlocks or notifications over a set period of time. Digital wellbeing also allows you to set 'do not disturb' times, and has a 'wind down' feature too, no buzzing no beeping, ahhh peace. Our favourite feature though has to be 'focus mode' temporarily pauses apps that are distracting when you need to focus. Here's a screen shot of the Android Digital Wellbeing Dashboard
How to check screen time on Android by turning on Digital Wellbeing:
Go to Settings > Digital Well Being. You can also show the icon in the App Draw. If you don't have the Digital Wellbeing feature on your device you can try apps like 'Usage Time' available in the Play Store.
What are the best apps to limit screen time?
The best apps to limit screen time are, well, simply the iPhone's own Screen Time feature itself (just like the Android Digital Wellbeing feature mentioned above), which has everything you really need: 'downtime' to only allow calls and limit what apps are available to you, 'app limits' where you can set certain times to have access to the apps you need and much more, take a look at this screen shot from Apple's website on the Screen Time feature.
My personal favourite app however is a win-win, it helps me control my screen time, but even more importantly stops me habitually grabbing my phone, this app helps me stay on task and stay focused. What is it? It's called Forest, it's £1.99 and the best £1.99 I've ever spent!
Nir Eyal, author of Indistractable, recommended it in his book. It's a great app that works by penalising you if you go off the app to scroll social media for instance. Here's an example: I can set a 1 hour timer on the app, because I want to read my book for an hour. I set the Forest app to 1 hour, during that hour the app grows a virtual tree, if i open any other app on my phone and go off task the tree dies. If I don't touch my phone for the whole hour, I get rewarded with a tree that I can add to my virtual forest. It's a visualisation of my focus achievement. I can also tell you, that a few times I've gone to pick up my phone but changed my mind, as I don't want to 'give up' growing my tree. Try it, it's awesome!
You might be saying, yes but it's an app on a screen based device -the point is to avoid screens right? You are correct, but you lock your screen and leave the app open still with the phone locked, voila!
On the forest you can even earn Virtual coins for the focus time you accumulate and spend those coins on either a) new species of virtual trees for your virtual forest, or even better b) plant a real tree on earth, spend 2500 virtual coins and their partner 'Trees for the Future' will plant a real tree! Forest App and Trees For the Future together have planted 804'316 trees (at the time of writing), how cool, get planting yours!
Aside from iOS Screen Time, Android Digital Wellbeing and the Forest app what are the best apps to limit screen time? Some suggestions for you are 'Freedom', Qustodio', 'Moment', ZenScreen' and 'Break Free'
Tips on how to reduce screen time
Screen time can be reduced in a number of ways. We found an infographic from the Australian Government that we feel gives practical and achievable guidance for ideas in reducing screen time for children, take a look:
Here's my personal suggestions, mainly for adults on how to reduce screen time, based on methods I've personally tried and/or still use.
Turn off all notifications on your devices, the call of the 'ding' will not tempt you to waste valuable minutes checking the 'like' on your latest social post.
Time block - Schedule time to check your social media, stick to it, maybe even block the apps in iPhone's Screen Time feature until the time blocked out for that task.
Close the 'Facebook' tab on your laptops internet browser, remove the temptation and ease to scroll.
Get the News feed Eradicator Chrome extension, it's awesome! It replaces your Facebook news feed with 1 single famous quote - this stops you wasting time scrolling!
How does all the above reduce screen time? It reduces the 'pointless' and 'passive' screen time and still allows for 'active' screen time that creates traction in your life, rather than distraction. These are my personal tips that I use and I got them from reading Indistractable - great book!
The matter of screen time is much more complex than simply knowing a set amount of time that is good or bad. Content, context and engagement levels come into play. Nobody has the exact answer to what you should and shouldn't do. But what we can do is listen to our bodies. Use digital devices to serve you and your needs, don't serve the device! You are in control, and you know what you, your body and your mind needs.
Here's the juicy bit!
Our dance school's new concept video: 'Screen Time'. A concept video that visualises the pull of our screens and emphasises the need to keep active in a fun way!
The video features 20 dancers aged 11 to 19 from the dance school, who all learnt the choreography remotely that I had sent them via Dropbox, at home through Covid-19 lockdown. Each section was demonstrated to them in half speed, and a full demo version of the video was made, to give the students direction, using 20 x me's! Here's some screen shots of that demo video:
Each dancer filmed themselves performing each section. I then spent the following 24 hours editing the piece together to produce the 2 minute video you'll see below.
Big thanks to D'Maduro from the Netherlands for the track!
We hope you enjoy!
Thank you for reading our article Too much screen time symptoms article. Please feel free to share this post on socials and sites. If you have a moment please subscribe to our Youtube channel to catch our next video!
Director - HIP HOP POP