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Do our screens make us less happy?

Posted by Nikki on July 26, 2017.

How much do you use your phone? If you’re really truthful with yourself I’m guessing the answer is ‘more than you would like to admit’. So, do our screens make us happy and if not, what can we do to get some balance back?

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It’s interesting isn’t it, because as a general rule I limit my children’s own screen time. My daughter who is 8 has an iPad which I bought from a friend for £100, it’s an old one but it lets her do what she wants it to, i.e. listen to music and she likes to watch her favourites ‘The Worst Witch and The Next Step’ on the BBC iplayer. I have custody of the iPad and she can have it when I let her, which is generally if she’s done her reading or homework for the day/week or if we are on a long car journey.

I think we have the right balance here, I have control over how much screen time she gets and it works for us all. She sees it as a reward and out-of-sight-out-of-mind she doesn’t ask for it particularly regularly.

I will readily admit that I use screen time for the children to my own advantage.

I know I am not alone and I don’t feel bad admitting it. I will allow them to use my phone to play a quick game while I’m attempting to dry my hair at the gym for five minutes, it saves them running around and causing mischief and I can see where they are when I wouldn’t be able to hear them. I use it if I need five minutes to put my make up on in the school holidays and the alternative is listening to the children argue over which one of them is pouring the milk onto their own cereal or who kicked who under the table! I really don’t feel bad.

But one thing I really DON’T do, is limit my own screen time, which is interesting when you consider I’m rather more strict when it comes to the kids. Double Standards. I ‘need’ slightly more time on my phone than the average adult. I run my website from my phone and I manage a high traffic Facebook group of over 4000 Mums and a couple of social media accounts for other businesses.

I thought about what the reasons are that I don’t want my children attached to screens too often, I wrote down the following:

What could happen if the children have too much screen time?

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  • It could decrease their attention
  • They could become to dependent on technology
  • It could affect their sleep
  • While they’re playing or watching something on their iPad they could be playing and learning through play in the real world
  • Too much screen time could mean less exercise

Those are just a few that sprung to mind.

If I apply the above to myself in order…

Using my phone:

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  • Distracts me very often, when I get multiple notifications from all manner of apps, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email…
  • I’m dependent on my phone, often just nonchalantly pressing the home button to check the time
  • It affects my sleep, I’ll have a quick scroll through BBC News or The Guardian app before bed and end up reading dozens of articles
  • While I’m on my phone I could be interacting in real-life, whether that be with my children or with my husband next to me at night on the sofa!
  • The only thing my phone doesn’t prevent me from in the list above is exercise, in fact, I use it to book in my gym classes and sometimes use YouTube fitness videos too.

I was in the bath the other night, listening to some podcasts (yes I even use my phone while I’m in the bath), and I heard the podcast below. It made me sit up, it made me think, and if you’re reading this right now, I’ll bet you it will remain one of the most influential podcasts you have listened to in a long while. Adam Alter talks about how we use or screen time, what we do with our phones and accepts that there are very many apps out there that enrich our lives but that in balance we need to be more conscious about how we manage what we do on them. He talks about new initiatives that companies around the world have designed to create well-being within their employees and promote a culture where we can switch off from our technology. He also talks about stopping cues… SO TRUE ! Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.

When you’ve watched the video below, if you’re as moved as I was after listening have a look at my ideas below and see what you can incorporate into your lives to make a difference.

I’m not about to tell you about your children’s screen time that’s down to you. If you’re anything like me you’ll already have that bit worked out. Let’s talk about you.

Do you use your phone too much? Are you scrolling through Facebook right now with your partner or children sat next to you? I’ve come up with some ideas that you could easily incorporate into your daily life. Some of you might ‘need’ to have your phones somewhat regularly like me but there’s no reason why you can’t try to find a better balance of screen vs facetime.
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Watch the video below, tell us what you think. We would love to hear your feedback & thoughts on what ‘rules’ you will incorporate into your daily lives to find a technology balance. 

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One response to “Do our screens make us less happy?”

  1. Sarah says:

    Great post Nikki – very relevant!

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