Balancing Screen Time and “Real” Time
Updated: Jul 28
To say our generation has simply grown up in “The Age Of Technology” is a massive understatement. We have been surrounded by technological advancements from the moment we set foot on earth. I vividly recall coming home from school everyday during elementary school incredibly eager to watch my favorite cartoon at the time, Phineas and Ferb. This was part of my daily routine. Whether it would rain or shine, I knew at the end of the day I would do my homework or relax while watching my show.
As I got older, Phineas and Ferb transitioned into video games like Minecraft and Roblox, and eventually, my afternoons became consumed with watching teenage television classics such as Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries or simply scrolling mindlessly through TikTok for hours on end. To me this pattern seemed normal, after all, my peers were all engaging in the same behavior. It wasn’t until I reached my junior year of high school that I realized I had to change my lifestyle for my overall wellbeing and mental health.
I’ll admit it, I frequently still find myself wasting time on social media when I could be doing something productive. It’s human nature to the majority of Gen Z. That being said, every day I put forth my best effort to minimize the amount of time I spend online, and maximize my time “connected” to the real world.
Here are the steps I took to find the balance between screen time and “real time”.
Finding Beneficial Forms of Entertainment
This can have a plethora of meanings, and be completely personal to you. I have always enjoyed reading, even during my Phineas and Ferb days, I always made sure to make time to read a good book. Think of it as watching television. If the book you’re reading is captivating enough, you’ll find that being able to merge it with a strand of your own imagination and creativity can make it ten times as enjoyable as a regular TV show. Other things you can indulge in include gardening, drawing, and working out, amongst many others.
Books Pictured: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, Mindfulness by Gill Hasson, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Canva / Designed by Ana Pujol // TPL Owned
Finding Ways to Stay off the Phone During Times Which Require Focus
It’s no secret that the phone is probably the most time consuming screen for all of us. There have been countless occasions during which I’ve been focused on homework when, all of a sudden, I give myself a five minute break to check my phone. Inevitably, that five minute break becomes a two hour procrastination session.
Recently, I discovered an app called “Flora” which has the purpose of keeping you from said procrastination habits. Flora is an interactive app which allows you to set a timer while simultaneously “growing” a plant. If you manage to get through the time you set without clicking out of the app, you receive a plant in your Flora garden, and plant a real tree through the Flora organization. The kicker is, if you exit the app, you “kill” a plant, which believe it or not, can be incredibly sad (speaking from experience), and if you REALLY need to stay on the app, you can put money on the table. Every time you exit the app, a donation goes through. Flora isn’t the only productivity app, however it has helped me save many many many hours and I strongly recommend it.
I often find myself scrolling through my phone even when I’m surrounded by others. This is an incredibly bad habit of mine. Be present in the moment and make the most of the time you have with your friends and loved ones. TikTok will always be there, the memories you have with others in person are gone in the blink of an eye, so treasure them. For instance, I have been dating my boyfriend for three whole years, so sometimes, we lack conversation topics (downside of knowing someone inside out!) and often both spend time on our phones while we’re together. This August he is going off to college, which means we’ll officially be long distance. Because of this, I’ve made it my mission to find ways to laugh together and enjoy the couple months we have before we go through a big change. Recently we’ve been playing a game in which we draft quite literally anything into teams. From candy to Marvel characters, we’ve literally done it all. This game always brings an incredibly fun time about and sparks even more topics of conversation which makes us forget about our phones all together. So next time you feel that there is no conversation, find creative ways to communicate, rather than going browsing through your phones which will always be there.
Canva / Collage by Ana Pujol // TPL Owned
Remember, it’s not about completely eradicating phone use and screen time, but finding a balance to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Nobody is perfect. I will continue to procrastinate, but I will also put forth the maximum effort to minimize how often it happens. Be present and enjoy the beauty the world has to offer.
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