Very high levels of screen time are connected to poor mental well-being. Research indicates that excessive amounts of screen time contributes to lower self-control, distractibility, difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, and poor task completion. Finding a healthy balance between screen time and non-screen time is important for the healthy development of a young adolescent.
Screen time has the biggest direct impact on sleep. Our brains require time away from blue light to sleep properly throughout the night. Blue light stimulates the brain and this stimulation interferes with the production of melatonin, which is one of the body's natural hormones that works to regulate our sleep cycles. Sleep cycles are challenging to regulate if the brain is not able to turn off these stimulated areas. It is encouraged to remain off screens for a full hour before your scheduled bed time to ensure a good night's sleep.
Using screens can make it harder for young adolescents to manage their emotions. Continual notifications can cause anxiety, false comparisons to others can initiate negative self-talk, and being flooded with the highlights of others' lives can easily push confidence levels down. Taking breaks from screen time can do wonders for regulating emotions and shifting our perspectives.
Research indicates that 29% of teen cell phone owners are awakened by notifications. We have developed a digital culture of instant gratification. Messages are compulsively checked, likes are quantified, stories are watched, reels are clicked on, streaks are perpetuated, and the list goes on. Young adolescents are encouraged to sleep with their phone in a separate room to avoid notifications interfering with morning and evening routines.
On average, young adolescents spend twice as much time on screens as they do playing outside. Devices, like many other items, are healthy in moderation. It is important to block off time without a device, and ideally spend this time outside. Spending at least thirty minutes a day outside will help improve short term memory, stimulate creative thinking, assist with vision, increase concentration, and aid in stress management. Be purposeful with your screen time and set limits so that you have time to play outside!