5 Benefits of Putting Your Electronic Devices Down
BY KIMBERLY CARROLL, MA, LPC, LADC
September 17, 2016
1) Better Sleep! Studies shown demonstrate that cell phone and electronic use (any screen time) before bedtime effect the part of the brain called the hypothalamus which effects our circadian rhythm, also known as our sleep wake cycles and our natural serotonin production. So, lying there restless at night? The worst thing you can do is grab your phone. Kids not wanting to sleep? Keep the TV and games off; it is actually impacting your child oppositely and will make for some sleepy days at school. Some studies have shown 4 in 10 people will check their phone if there are new messages in the middle of the night; so turn your sounds off and alarms on and hit the sack for some quality sleep.
2) Be better emotionally attuned! A study out of the University of California, LA, stated that children who spent more screen time on phones and devices had a lessened ability to recognize emotions. The study states, "Sixth-graders who went five days without exposure to technology were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids who had regular access to phones, televisions and computers." So, when it is time for your kids to hang out after school you can implement ideas, such as a cell phone 'turn-in space' so play is face to face. Think about voting options for increasing such devices in the school systems and what effects it may take away from your child's social development. Model doing this yourself! Your kids may love the extra attention with you, too and you can set the new family trend.
3) Increased behavioral activation and, indirectly, positive mood. Let's face it, throughout the different increments I sat down to write this blog, I was accomplishing much exercise for anything beyond my fingers and brain. Our bodies need exercise to maintain healthy levels of neurotransmitters that promote positive mental health. When we do not exercise, our serotonin, dopamine and norepinepherine are thereby effected. These neurotransmitters are linked to good mood. So, how long have you been sitting at you computer? Is it time to stand up and give your body a bit of a walk around the block? Some studies indicate that Americans are now spending more time on electronics then sleeping. Getting regular exercise will not only help to increase your mood by raising the neurotransmitter levels in your brain, but it will guard again degenerative brain disease according to Livestrong.com; it will increase blood flow or oxygenation levels. Exercise can help naturally improve conditions such as Parkinson's Disease and depressive disorders. Lastly, if you exercise outside, you will also be increasing your Vitamin D levels which are also connected to improved brain function. So two in one! Now finish your article and enjoy your time outdoors!
4) Improved insight of one's true self and increase authentic relationships. Huh? What does all that jumbo mean?! Right? Ok, so let's put it this way, social media is a place where we can stay connected with people any time of the day, anywhere in the world. It is a place where we can manipulate our page to reflect how we want others to see us. While this may temporarily give false persona to our existence, it essentially allows us to live in and believe false realities to increase out self-worth. But what if we were to try to rather actualize what we try to portrait or rather reach out to trustworthy supports and ask for advice. What if we accepted how we look, rather than spend time trying to take the perfect selfie or edit the best portrait. What if spent less time talking about having fun and spent that time actually out having fun? Spending less time on sites like Facebook will allow us to build more authentic relationships in person. Spending more self-care time and time doing internal work and engaging in actions that will improve us to be the best person we can be may be more gratifying than editing that selfie for 10 'likes'. Being able to be with those people who really think you are amazing and not just your selfie or recent post, may be time spent developing memories and social connections that you can better rely on throughout the years. Now, while it is true that Facebook allows us a place to stay connected even when we live across the world from one another, imagine the emotions and engagement you'll rather receive when at the least, you are able to have a chat! So, yes, sometimes that invention called the phone is still very useful, but that also means you have to remember how to converse and not just stare and touch the phone! So, have at it!
5) Reduce your stress levels. Albeit, the first couple times may be difficult, but making electronic free days or hours may indeed reduce your stress. Think about the worries that come with electronics: Will the charge hold long enough? Did I remember the charger? What will this new message say? What will people think of my last post? Will my auto-text error be severely misinterpreted? Like in other addictions, electronic devices give us instant gratification to get what we want now. Rather, set the phone down, make some plans, leave your phone at a home and have a stellar day with a friend or your family. Let go, breathe and know everything will not have melted down by the time you get back home to check your messages.