Who Said Screen Time Had To Be A Waste Of Time?

Whether we like it or not, we’re living in a gadget-based age. Even if you consider yourself ‘non-techy’, the chances are that you spend quite an amount of time on your gadgets. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who only used their phone for calls nowadays. Even households without television are the exception rather than the rule. We just can’t get through a day without at least some terrific technology to see us through. 

In many ways, that isn’t a bad thing. Though it often gets a bad reputation from a ‘wellness’ perspective, technology can enhance our lives. If you focus on buying gadgets with purpose, you could enjoy all manner of benefits every day. With the right tech in your home, you could feel safer, more connected, and even smarter than you before. 

Why is it, then, that we often refer to the time we spend on technology as ‘wasted hours’? 

Why does screen time have such a terrible reputation for being the most wasteful and harmful activity of our entire days? When you consider the potential benefits mentioned above, screen time should leave us feeling better, not worse. But, let’s face it; that’s very rarely the case. 

The fact is that U.S. consumers spend an average of five hours on their smartphones each day. On top of that, we spend another five hours in front of our televisions. And, the majority of us aren’t happy about it. At this time of year especially, a great deal of us are making resolutions to use screens less. 

In a way, though, you could argue that a resolution like this is a double-edged sword. Remember, after all, that our screen time can benefit us as well, as long as we're not using it for the wrong reasons. We each have an endless source of inspiration and learning, right at our fingertips. As such, you may gain time by putting that phone aside, but you also stand to miss out. 

When you take a step back, it seems that, instead of cutting the time we spend staring at screens, we should be focusing on making it more worthwhile. There’s no denying that an hour or two of scrolling through social media can leave you lacking and frustrated. It could even downright upset you if you get stuck reading the wrong things. Equally, watching vapid television programs is sure to leave you stale. But, by taking control of what we consume, it’s possible that we can turn those tides without needing to lose the habit altogether. That means we get to enjoy the benefits while eliminating the bad stuff. All you need to do is keep reading to find out how. 

Cherry pick who you follow on social media

When it comes to wasting time by screen, nothing is as wasteful or harmful as social media. This is the ultimate source of comparison, isn’t it? As such, many of us spend our hours here knocking our self-confidence. Then, we wonder why we don’t feel great after our hours of scrolling. It’s a catch 22 situation, and it’s one many of us are too lost in to notice. But, it’s possible we’re approaching platforms like these all wrong. If you take a step backwards, you’ll see that your social media accounts could be positive places

All it takes is a little more pickiness about who you follow. Unsubscribe to anyone who makes you feel inferior or bad about yourself. Get rid of those people who post bitchy statements or moaning updates. Instead, look out for accounts which are sure to bring you a boost of confidence, that motivate and uplift you in more way than none. This is especially easy to do on Instagram. Many artists post uplifting and beautiful pictures, as opposed to pointless snaps of their food. Even on platforms like Twitter, there are plenty of ‘feel-good’ accounts. These could lift you up after a scrolling session instead of dragging you down. 

Just like that, you can turn that otherwise wasted time into a boost which sees you through the day. You can bet that accounts like these will be the breath of fresh air you need on your morning commute. If they inspire you enough, you may even find that you stop your scrolling sooner without meaning to. You may just have the sudden urge to take a walk or get stuck into a new project. All because you realized that what you saw was in your hands. 

Choose the channels you want

As we’ve already mentioned, most of us spend as long watching television as we do on our smartphones. Again, though, most of what we consume during those hours isn’t great for us. Reality television with faux arguments galore is pretty much all that’s on nowadays. Add to that the few crime series which hit our screens, and you’ve got a recipe for anxiety and dissatisfaction, that is why I don't watch them. Instead of improving your worldview, programs like these are yet another waste of time. They’re like those toxic social media accounts you’re already weeding out of your life. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to make changes here, too. 

Your best bet by far would be to look into a handpicked television package like those available from Suddenlink. Again, this would free you up to select what you see, and ensure it’s something you want in front of you. By choosing a package heavy in documentary channels, you can make television time educational. By selecting film channels, you can steer clear of reality television for the rest of your days. Either way, you won’t need to watch something just ‘because it’s on’ anymore. You’ll be able to select programs which are sure to benefit your life in some way. Even better, you won’t need to give up your much-loved couch time to achieve the goal. 

Block browsing in the wrong places

Even with your best efforts to make the most of your screen time, old habits often die hard. 

You’re only human, after all, and there’s a risk that you’ll slip into your old time-wasting habits at any moment. This is especially likely if you’re browsing on your phone and you run out of more positive things to view. If you come to the end of your new social media feed, for instance, you may make the mistake of dabbling elsewhere. If this happens, even your best efforts aren’t going to save you from the risk of wasting time. If this becomes a regular occurrence, you’ll be back into those unhealthy browsing habits before you know. 

To stop that from happening, block yourself from browsing sites you know are harmful. Programs like Stay-focused and Productivity Owl are designed with this purpose in mind. You input the websites you want to steer clear of, and they take care of the rest. Even if you then try to sneak onto the offending site, you won’t be able to. It’s sure to be annoying at first, and there may be times when you curse yourself for putting such programs in place. Over time, though, you’ll stop even trying to browse on those banned websites. You should see an improvement in the quality of your screen time almost immediately. 

Take back control of your home page 

Despite your best efforts, the websites we browse still like to remind us they’re in the driving seat. They’re businesses, after all, and they’re sure to try selling us all manner of stuff we don’t want. Isn’t that just the story of life? The trouble is that, when it comes to our screen time, we often buy without even noticing it. On sites like YouTube, our home pages often advertise high-ranking videos with click-bait titles. 

Our Instagram and Twitter accounts might recommend we follow people because it would benefit them if we did. And, much to our shame, the majority of us fall for these tricks. All it takes is an eye-catching picture or an irresistible video title, and we’re there. Just as those sites know that we will be. Sadly, curiosity is always going to kill the cat with things like this. 

Such sites even paint accounts like these up as though they'd interest us. Newsflash; they never do. The moment you click on that catchy homepage video, for example, you’re sure to get stuck in an endless YouTube loop. Straight away, a load more clickable titles will appear in your sidebar, and you’ll be lost. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Though they aren’t widely advertised, there are ways to take back that homepage control. A fantastic option here would be to set your YouTube welcome page as your subscription feed. Even on other social media platforms, you can level things out. Focus on making your interests specific, and avoiding those irresistible clicks. While you can’t stop sites like these promoting accounts, you can ensure those accounts meet your tastes and newfound screen attitude. 

These changes may take some time to adjust to, but they’re well worth sticking with. Before you know, your hours of screen time will expand your mind rather than shutting it down.

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