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My average screentime is eight hours and 44 minutes a day. Meaning, I spend more time on my phone using apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter than I do sleeping (my nightly sleep time is around seven hours.) Technically, I fit into the category of being “chronically online,” defined as someone whose entire existence revolves around being on the internet. 

I like to tell myself I’m not the only one on my phone for more than I should be. So what, exactly, is the ideal amount of time to spend on your phone? The tricky part is that there aren’t any solid guidelines. 

In one 2018 study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, researchers found that college students who cut back to no more than 30 minutes per day on social media had improved well-being compared to those who didn’t, including decreased symptoms of depression and loneliness.

In general, experts recommend that you spend at least three to four hours daily without any screentime; long periods of screentime or social media time are associated with higher risks of digital eye strain, poor sleep, and even anxiety and depression. Taking breaks, avoiding screens for an hour before bedtime, and other steps can help.

All I know is that I’m actually ending up with a little more than the average amount of time (six to eight hours) that Gen Z spends online. Before you ask: Yes, I have tried limiting my screentime, which you can often do in the settings of your phone or social media platforms. The problem is, you can turn any limits off immediately after the notification tells you your limit has been reached.  

A disadvantage is that my job revolves around news, so I tend to be online for work — or at least that’s what I tell myself as I toggle through apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. I need to keep up with the news and trends on social platforms. Where else can I find out that Prince Harry had a frostbitten penis at William and Kate’s wedding besides Twitter? 

In reality, I have raging FOMO. What if my friends make plans without me? What if a Frank Ocean album drops? A new strain of COVID I should be aware of? The need to belong is connected with problematic phone use, contributing to mood disturbances, social media addiction, fatigue, stress, and poor psychological well-being, according to a 2022 study in Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies. The drive to be socially connected is as fundamental as food and sex, according to the author of the study. 

Considering that I’m someone who writes about health and has researched the effects of social media on mental health, you would think I’d slow down on media consumption, but since I downloaded Instagram at 13, I never have. I wanted to see how a phone-free week would affect my mental health and if the experience would inspire me to deactivate more often. 

So I decided to lock my phone away for the week. 

#Replaced #iPhone #Motorola #Razr #Flip #Phone #Week #Heres

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