Screens are everywhere. Even before quarantine, many of us spent hours a day with our screens – working, learning, entertaining ourselves. But when we could leave the house, it seemed easier to avoid screen time. For example, the commute to and from work was a forced break from those long hours on devices. Now that we’re all home, where does it end?
Quarantine Screen Time: Is It As Bad As We Think?
Perhaps your smartphone has a feature that notifies you that your screen time has increased 80%+ compared to weeks before the shutdown. With all this time spent indoors, many of us assume that this or a similar increase is typical, and we’d be right. Mashable did a Twitter poll to find out what the average increase is. Of 236 respondents, 75% said their screen time has increased, and the most common increase was between 50% and 100%. But that’s just what’s recorded on your phone.
We’re also spending more time on computers. A lot of us have day-to-day work stuff that is typically performed on a computer, but now meetings are held via video chat, collaborations are done through screen sharing, and those water cooler conversations have turned into email or instant message. Finally, instead of driving home and giving ourselves a break from screens, we walk over to our couches, plop down, and prepare to binge-watch whatever new show we’re on.
Visual Capitalist broke down the change in media consumption per age group to show the differences among demographics.
Screen Time Is Adding Up
Regardless of the device (phone, tablet, computer, TV, etc.), screen time continues to accumulate throughout the day. From working 8 hours a day to binging 4-6 hours a night to scrolling intermittently through social media throughout the day to catching up on news, that screen time adds up and takes a toll on our eyes.
Now, think of screen time in terms of work hours. Your eyes work hard to focus all the information you see, and they’re forced to work hard to focus on screens due to the type of light emitted. Not including the “work” they do off-screen, your eyes “clock in” when you begin work – let’s say 8AM – and work until you stop – let’s say 5PM. Unlike you, their job is not done.
Now they’re working on that Netflix show you’re binging while simultaneously scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. Next, they’re reviewing the latest COVID-19 information, the hottest gossip, and any other news you might find. They even work as you find yourself in a rabbit hole of cat videos again. With no “mandatory break” taken during the day and no end in sight, your eyes are struggling to keep up with demand.
How to Give Your Eyes a Break
It’s important to remember that not all screen time is bad, and many times, especially in today’s circumstances, technology helps us feel connected. However, moderation is key, and that’s something that is difficult to strike a balance with right now. While we can’t shut down and reset our eyes completely without going to sleep, there are several ways you can give them a break throughout the day.
Try the 20-20-20 rule.
This one is simple to incorporate, even in a busy workday. Every 20 minutes look at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 20 seconds is all it takes to help your eyes reset and refocus and help keep eye strain and fatigue at bay. It’s helpful to set a reminder to help you remember – 20 minutes goes by faster than you think!
Do some old-school reading.
Instead of grabbing an e-reader or tablet, pick up a hardcopy magazine, newspaper, or book. Reading from actual paper helps your eyes focus by reducing the amount of harmful blue light (the type of light emitted by screens) they encounter. Paper material is also much easier for your eyes to focus on, but it’s still important to take breaks periodically.
Get outside, but wear protection.
The weather is starting to warm up, so going outside has become a viable if not necessary option for taking a break from screens. However, we must wear protection while being exposed to sunlight. The sun is the largest producer of blue light as well as UV light, so wearing sunglasses and/or a hat while outdoors is imperative to protecting your eyes.
Play a board game.
Board games are a great way to get the family together sans screens. With some games taking 30 minutes to an hour to complete, it’s an easy, fun way to break the screen stare.
Do a puzzle.
Puzzles are another way to transfer your focus away from screens. Whether it’s a family activity or you take it on solo, puzzles can provide hours of screen-free fun.
Take an eye vitamin.
As we mentioned, your eyes are constantly working. From the moment we wake up to the second we close our eyes at night, they’re hard at work interpreting and transmitting information. To continue to perform at their best, we need to feed them the right balance of nutrients. The EyePromise® Screen Shield™ line offers 2 formulas specifically designed with ingredients that protect the eyes from blue light emitted by screens.
Screen Shield Pro is a one-a-day softgel created for adults age 18 and up with ingredients demonstrated to protect your eyes from the blue light emitted by screens and reduce the risk of developing screen time-related eye issues like tired, strained eyes.
Screen Shield Teen is the children’s version. This one-a-day fruit punch-flavored chewable tablet complements a multi-vitamin and includes 5 simple ingredients to help support healthy eyes.
By taking either of these vitamins regularly, you can help prepare your eyes for those long work hours.
Your eyes work hard for you. It’s only right that you give them a break every once in a while. Using these tips can help your eyes relax and, ultimately, work better for you in the long run. Learn more about eye strain due to screens.