Words by Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner
My son is pre-teen and started to develop all of the attitudes and resistances of a teenager. One of our biggest battles is over screen time. I have a rule of one hour a day of any screen TV and computer included – I think that is more than enough!
I realize that being computer literate is an important part of our life today, however, I am concerned with the amount of screen time that each of us has in a day.
Studies are limited on the impact of screens upon us, however, researchers and mental health specialists are starting to link the following with increased screen usage:
- Reduced- social development, social skills, academic progress, physical activity, health and wellbeing, attention span, resilience and ability to cope with stress.
- Increased- moodiness, agitation, hyperarousal, sleep issues, anxiety and depression, difficulties in forming friendships and relationships and even risk of suicide.
These findings are highly concerning especially as we as a society seem so blasé about screen use, especially in children. Children’s nervous systems are much more sensitive than adults and screen can have a negative effect upon their nervous system making them wired but tired and fractious all of the time.
I understand that there are benefits to screen time. Screen time is very stimulating and engages our creativity, our imaginations and provides a forum for us to learn and engage in issues and topics of interest.
It is the amount of screen time that I am concerned with. I’m concerned that screen time limits our other interactions namely with nature and with other people. Screen time can become addictive and can be a convenient way to avoid life and relating with others. This is particularly concerning as in some cases, everyone is engaging with their device and no-one is talking or connecting, it’s like walking into a void, where people’s minds are actively engaged, but nothing else is.
In many spiritual practices, the aim is to give the mind less power and control and to devote more time and attention to the heart. Spiritual teachers realize that the mind often causes a lot of trouble in our lives- the mind is always looking outside of us to gain pleasure and satisfy the need of the ego to feel special. The issue with the mind is that it doesn’t give us a full perspective of life; we perceive and follow what serves us and satisfies us. The mind is driven by what we as an individual needs and is very susceptible to advertising- get this and you will be great, happy, healthy etc. this creates a separation between others and us and we become self-obsessed and not so concerned with community and connection. This leads to a lot of individuals getting their needs met no matter who or what they harm in the process. This is the opposite of what the heart and soul want and need – connection and community. The heart and soul are satisfied with the simple things in life, family, friendships, nature and helping others.
So, please look at your screen usage and set limits for your children’s usage. Send them outside to interact with nature, themselves and other kids. They may protest, but being outside, the body produces hormones that encourage health and well-being, stress reduction and peaceful sleep.
Jane Faulkner started her career as a Registered Nurse and has worked in hospitals in Australia and overseas. During her career as a nurse, she supported people through the difficult transitions of illness, grief, death, trauma, mental health issues and childbirth.
Jane has a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy, a Bachelor of Nursing, a Certificate in Initiatic Art Therapy and is certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapist. Yoga is an integral part of her life, she is a Certified Iyengar Teacher and continues to study and teach in the Iyengar yoga tradition. She is an accomplished teacher, therapist, and facilitator and has led many women’s groups and Day Retreats, presented seminars and workshops, and worked with many different community groups and individuals.
Jane is the founder of Equine Assisted Therapy Australia, an organisation that provides training, retreats, programs and individual sessions that aim to provide individuals with a new and authentic ways to grow and learn more about themselves. Connect with Jane HERE.