Posts Tagged ‘screen free’

Does that question cause you some anxiety? Even thinking about it may feel impossible!
Our phones are used for so much these days; banking, shopping, entertainment, keeping in touch, navigating and more. Even my kids share ways their teachers incorporate their phones into their school day with quizzes and classroom research. 

cell phone

As our use of our phones has grown, so has the research suggesting that our phones can impact our health: physically, mentally and emotionally. With this in mind, taking a break from your phone can be a powerful way to improve your health and well-being. The benefits of taking a break from screens are vast and impact many areas of our daily life. Improved mood, better sleep, a healthier work/life balance, being more present in everyday moments and even a more focused driver are all positive benefits from a break. 

Putting down your phone can be easier said than done.  It doesn’t have to be permanently. Just a few small changes in the way phones are used in your daily life can have a big impact. Here are a few to consider:

Remove phones for transitional moments in your day: walking, getting ready in the morning, driving etc.  Instead of allowing your phone to distract you focus on walking from your car into the grocery store.  Be present in the moment. Pay attention to your breathing, what you see, what you smell.

Consider other ways to fill down time: We haven’t always had our phones. What did you do with your downtime before?  Our phones often control or take over our downtime with checking on social media or playing a game.  Think about what you used that downtime for before you started crushing all that candy and try to implement some of those activities or hobbies.  

Put your phone away before bed: The blue light emitted from our phones can impact sleep, making it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep. Our mind needs time to unwind after technology use throughout the day.   Shutting off your phone 30 minutes before bed can help you achieve more restful sleep and help your brain produce the melatonin it needs to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Find opportunities to explore the real world: Get outside, spend some time in nature.  Focus on building real relationships.  Walk over and have a conversation with a neighbor face to face instead of texting.  Call a friend or make plans that don’t include screens or your phone. 

Put your phone away during conversations:  Studies show that people feel less connected to conversation partners, and found their partners less empathically attuned, when a cell phone was present during the conversation. Having a phone present can be a barrier to a deeper or meaningful conversation. These conversations require trust and undivided attention.   Putting your phone away shows your loved ones that you are listening and focused on them. 

Whether as a temporary breather or an opportunity to create enduring change, there is much to be gained from taking a break from your phone. Screen-Free Week is April 29- May 5. Take the online pledge and you’ll receive support and tips for going screen free.
There is no need to go it alone- consider getting close friends, family, and household members to join you in this effort.



Commercial-Free Childhood. (2019). Rediscover the joys of life away from screens. Retrieved from https://www.screenfree.org/

Gomes, M. (2018, April). Five Reasons to Take a Break from Screens. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_reasons_to_take_a_break_from_screens

The National Sleep Foundation. (2019). Three ways gadgets are keeping you awake. Retrieved from https://www.sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/

Written by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County

Reviewed by: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County


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The Live Healthy Live Well team is getting ready to kick off the Time Out 4 Health Wellness Challenge. Individuals who sign up for this challenge will receive email messages two times a week with encouraging tips and strategies to find time for health and wellness this fall. While taking a break from technology is not directly addressed through the challenge, doing so may free up time to improve mental, physical and emotional health.

Technology has many positive uses, but the overconsumption of technology can have a negative effect on health. In a webinar titled This is Your Brain Online: The Impact of Digital Technology on Mental Health, Dr. Scott Becker, director of the Michigan State University Counseling Center, discusses how the overuse of digital technology can impact sleep, memory, attention span, capacity to learn, stress, identity and relationships. Additionally, research suggests a direct association between screen time and obesity in both children and adults.

capture In a world where technology is everywhere all the time, deeply ingrained in all aspects of culture and society, how does one reduce technology consumption? A good place to begin is by taking time to consider how you use technology in your daily life. What aspects of technology could you minimize or live without? Maybe there are times in the evening or on the weekend that you could designate as screen-free, choosing to spend time outside, with family, or engaged in a hobby instead of a screen. In the workplace, try turning off email notifications or designating set times to check your phone, especially while working on important projects, to increase productivity and focus. Be deliberate about how and when you use technology to reap its benefits without suffering health consequences.

You may also want to try “digital detoxing”, the act of refraining from electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers for a specified period of time. Join others in a digital detox by pledging to participate in Screen Free Week, held annually in May, or the National Day of Unplugging, held on the first Friday in March. In the meantime, unplug and spend time outdoors, and don’t let any vacation time that you may have go to waste. Take time to refresh and recharge!

Author: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu


Michigan State University Extension (2015). This is Your Brain Online: The Impact of Digital Technology on Mental Health. https://mediaspace.msu.edu/media/t/1_77c64xn4

USDA Nutrition Evidence Library (2010). What is the relationship between screen time and body weight? http://www.nel.gov/conclusion.cfm?conclusion_statement_id=250317&full_review=true

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Are you guilty of spending more time watching TV than talking to your family? If most of us kept track of our daily activities we would probably find that this is unfortunately true. A number of organizations have begun promoting a TV or Screen Free Week over the last 10 to 15 years, with many of them holding activities in 2012 during April 30 to May 6. So why is cutting back on TV or screen time important?

  • There are many studies which show that we spend on average 4 to 5 hours per day watching TV, but only 35 minutes per day having a meaningful conversation with our family members.
  • Unfortunately American TV also is increasingly violent, which may promote violent or mean children.
  • Too much TV viewing has been shown to result in poor student grades, because they problem solving skills and creativity levels decrease and children who watch more TV usually read less.
  • Research studies also support that children who watch more TV are more often overweight. Causes may be because they are less active, or because they watch more commercials for sugar sweetened or high calories snacks and drinks.
  • Many homes also have multiple televisions or other screens that pull families apart and encourage lack of family time and conversation.

Once you have decided to do a TV or screen free day or week you may need to plan ahead with a list of possible activities if you usually spend your evening in front of a screen. Why not try a few of the following:

  • Let family members pick a different game to play together each night. You will probably have to use your brain for a few math problems in the process.
  • Explore nature, plant a garden, work in your yard, play with your pets, or visit a park.
  • Work on a craft or scrapbook page together. It is a perfect time for starting a Mother’s Day gift from the heart.
  • Read a book (by yourself or together as a family is even better), go to the library, or write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a while. Everyone loves to get mail!
  • Clean out your garage or closets and have a yard sale or donate the items to a charity.
  • Go bowling, take a picnic, or ride bikes.
  • Spend time cooking a real family meal together, with everyone involved in the preparation and clean-up.
  • Organize a TV or Screen free fun night for your neighborhood, friends, church group, or youth club.

If you don’t think you can go the whole week without watching television, why not try to reduce your TV time by taking a few TV free nights or setting a limit of 1 hour of TV viewing? You will probably get more done and have more meaningful conversations with your family members or friends.


University of Michigan Health System, Television and Children, http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm.

Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood, http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/.

LimiTV: Promoting Growth and Achievement, http://www.limitv.org/.

Written by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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