Finding Balance: The Role of Screen Time in Neurodiversity and Well-being
In our digital era, screens have become an integral part of our lives. From our phones to our computers, and our televisions, we spend more time on screens than we realize. Screen time and neurodiversity is a tricky balance as there are many benefits of screen time for neurodiverse individuals, while too much screen time is detrimental to anyone’s well-being. While this technology offers valuable tools, particularly for the neurodiverse community, overuse can lead to increased anxiety and distraction, and impact our overall well-being.
How can a neurodiverse person manage their screen time use while honoring their connection to the online world? Continue to use the internet to foster friendships and community, be purposeful with how you use screen time, set screen time limits, leave your devices in another room when it is not screen time, turn off notifications and check email and social media only at pre-scheduled times, make changes slowly.
Continue reading to learn more about the benefits and limitations of screen time, as well as tips to balance your screen time use properly.
The Double-Edged Sword of Digital Media
The advancement of technology has undeniably brought significant benefits, especially considering screen time and neurodiversity. Many have formed deep friendships, found social connections, and engaged in special interests, all through the medium of technology. However, this digital connectedness can also be a double-edged sword.
Excessive screen time can lead to feelings of anxiety and distraction, affecting our productivity and overall health. It may also be taking us away from other important aspects of life, such as personal interactions and downtime where your mind can truly rest and recover. Moderation, as is often the case, is key.
Measuring Your Usage
So, how much screen time is too much? A good starting point is to assess your current usage. Most smartphones have built-in screen time reports that display how much time you spend on different apps each day.
Turning these reports on, or simply navigating to your settings to check your average screen time, can be an eye-opening experience. You might be surprised by the amount of time spent scrolling through social media, playing games, or simply browsing the internet.
Setting Screen Time Limits
After understanding your current usage, the next step is to set reasonable screen time limits. This can be done directly through your smartphone settings or using specific computer applications designed for this purpose. If you prefer a more traditional approach, nothing beats good old-fashioned willpower.
Start slow. Cutting screen time drastically might be hard and lead to a rebound effect. Instead, gradually reduce your screen time to make the transition smoother. Consider how you are using your screen time.
If you have a rich social life online, but want to create more in-person connections, you may consider using your screen time to research local clubs, organizations, volunteer opportunities, or Meetup groups that are in line with your interests. This will be more productive than aimlessly scrolling through social media, as in-person connections may be what you need to create more balance in your life. Develop a routine that incorporates scheduled screen time, and how you will use it.
Practical Tips for Reducing Screen Time
One effective strategy is to create screen-free zones or times. For instance, keep your phone in another room while cooking, doing household chores, reading a book, or going for a walk. This not only reduces your screen time but also helps you stay fully present in your activities. Being fully present, rather than distracted, will help you experience enjoyment in everyday tasks, activities, and interactions.
Other practical tips include setting specific times to check emails or social media, turning off unnecessary notifications, and replacing some screen activities with non-screen alternatives. The American Heart Association provides additional guidance on healthy screen usage.
Screen Time and Neurodiversity: Striking the Right Balance
The importance of screen time management might be universal, but the application is deeply personal, especially for those within the neurodiverse community. By understanding your unique needs and challenges, you can design a digital lifestyle that supports your well-being and helps you thrive in every aspect of life.
Finding the right balance between beneficial screen time and other important aspects of life is an ongoing process, but the rewards are worth it. Let’s embrace this challenge and thrive together in our digital world.