How Much Screen Time is Too Much? (Part 2)

Amanda Luzzader

How much screen time is too much?

Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok. Pokemon GO, Minecraft, Angry Birds, and Call of Duty. Are you spending too much time on your phone, computer, or gaming console? In this second part of a three-part article, we’re discussing how much screen time is too much. In the first part, we discussed some of the positive impacts and beneficial uses of social media and video games. Now we’ll move on to the not-so-great effects electronics and screens have on us.

So, how much is too much?Online searches about this question result in a variety of answers.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology states that reducing social media usage to 30 minutes per day over a three-week time period reduced symptoms of loneliness and depression in study subjects when compared to a control group. The study went on to “strongly suggest” that limiting social media use to 30 minutes per day “may lead to a significant improvement in well-being.”

For some people, 30 minutes of screen time might seem preposterous. Other online sources say that something more like 2-3 hours a day can be a healthy dose of screen time. A 2021 article in Forbes reported (citing information from John Hopkins Medicine) that more screen time than that leaves you vulnerable to certain health conditions, including weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes.

Two hours per day does seem like a reasonable amount of time. After all, most of us need to go to school or work, prepare meals, attend to housework, take care of kids, and sleep. And most of us probably have other interests, too, such as exercise, reading, socializing, and so on. Spending more than around two hours a day on any hobby or pursuit, whether it’s yoga, yardwork, or building a ship in a bottle, would eventually have to interfere with other, possibly more critical activities.

However, an article published by the BBC in 2018 suggests that the amount of time spent on electronics isn’t really the issue. Quoted in the article is Mark Griffiths, an expert on addictions at Nottingham Trent University, who suggested that, as long as your screen time isn’t obsessive, is enriching your life and not negatively affecting it, and you are not suffering from adverse symptoms such as depression or anxiety, time limits aren’t terribly meaningful.

This makes sense, too, because on some days you might spend only a short time checking your feed, while other days you might spend more. Exceeding an arbitrary time limit one day doesn’t seem very important when you’re under that time limit on most other days.

It may be more effective, therefore, to analyze your usage of electronics and screentime to determine how much is too much for you.

Do I have a problem with screen time?In a 2018 article in Forbes, writer Tom Ward makes the point that addiction to electronics, social media, and video games isn’t discussed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (also known as the DSM-5). So, technically, it’s not a disorder, although the World Health Organization announced in January of 2018 that it considered video game addiction a legitimate disorder. Whether too much screen time is considered a diagnosable disorder, it’s difficult to deny that excessive and obsessive use of electronic diversions can be disruptive.

To determine if you might be spending too much time with social media, Ward suggests asking yourself whether the following statements apply to you:

  • The first thing I do in the morning is check your social media.
  • I take down a post if it hasn’t reached a certain amount of likes.
  • I feel angry when nobody comments on my posts.
  • I overanalyze images of myself to post.
  • I can’t go to the bathroom without my phone.
  • I find myself refreshing my feed every few minutes.
  • I obsess over getting verified.

Similarly, the BBC’s article on social media addiction suggested that if you “strongly agree” with four or more of the statements below, you may have a problem with addition to social media:

  • I spend a lot of time thinking about social media, or planning how to use it.
  • I feel an urge to use social media more and more.
  • I use social media to forget about personal problems.
  • I’ve tried to cut down my use of social media without success.
  • I get restless or troubled if I’m prohibited from using social media.
  • I use social media so much it’s had a negative impact on my work.

What now?Let’s say you’ve determined, either by polling yourself with the above statements, or by some other means, that you need to reduce your social media use, video game play, or screen time in general. In the concluding part of this three-part article, we’ll look at ways to curb your use of social media and other online or electronic distractions.

More Articles You Might Enjoy

Didn’t find what you’re looking for?