How Much Screen Time Is “Too Much” as an Adult?

In 2016, the average amount of time Americans spent on their devices was nearly 11 hours per day. In 2020, after the pandemic hit, that number went up even more. When Instagram introduced a new feature for limiting screen time earlier this year, the conversation surrounding this topic exploded. How much screen time is too much for adults? Let’s discuss!

Screen Time Guidelines

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) offers specific guidelines that govern how long children should use screens. For example, children ages 2-5 should be limited to one hour of non-education screen time on weekdays and three hours on weekends. However, there are fewer specific guidelines for adults.

Why Limit Screen Time?

We’ve heard that screen time is “bad” for us, but why exactly?

  • Depression: A 2017 study found that people who spent more than six hours each day on screens had a higher risk of depression.
  • Insomnia or Disrupted Sleep: The light from screens can make your brain think it should stay awake, making it more difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • Eye Strain: Extensive screen time can cause eye strain and fatigue, which can lead to more severe eye problems and headaches.
  • Pain: Time spent holding and looking at your device or sitting at a desk can lead to excessive pain.
  • Changes in Cognition: Smartphone addiction can lead to issues in the brain and poorer cognitive performance.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Screen time is directly linked to people being less active, which is linked to obesity and other health problems.

What Is a Healthy Amount of Screen Time?

Experts have found that adults should limit screen time to less than two hours per day outside work hours. Whether those hours are on social media or watching television, more time outside or being active should be attempted after this amount of time!

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