Too Much Screen Time | From Distraction to Intention

How hard is it for you to be present with others without grabbing your phone to reference something, check your email, or to scroll social media? When was the last time you had more than an hour of no screen time? (Sleeping doesn’t count!) Any chance you have trouble sleeping or end up going to bed too late? You might notice a decrease in your creativity and connection with yourself. If you are saying yes to these questions then it’s likely technology has taken over your life and your ability to be present with yourself and others. 

Our minds have changed drastically in the last 100 years. Think about when you were a kid, depending on when you were born, things were definitely slower than they are now. The promises that technology makes life easier can be misleading and instead when used without care, very often complicates our lives further by affecting our memory, cognitive function, mental health and overall wellbeing. 

Screen time that is based on chasing something activates the brain’s reward system. After reading different research, I believe this trains your brain to be addicted to fast-pace visual stimulation, indirect rewards and gratification of false accomplishments. If you are so used to things being fast-paced in your mind then you physicalize this and either go on high speed, have a hard time being calm or struggle to feel emotions. We often use screen time to avoid feeling altogether, which is another huge topic in itself.

The readings above show how the over-stimulation of a developing brain compared to the slow pace of reality prevents the ability to just let the mind wander and to be ok with being bored, because it is the place of boredom that imagination happens.

Younger individuals are further affected because their sense of self-control has not been developed and is now being hijacked by games and other platforms that provide rewards for little skill accomplishment. I was so mad as a kid that my parents wouldn’t buy some sort of gaming system, and now I am so grateful that they didn’t. I learned to be with myself, get creative and loved being outside.

Effects of too much screen time

The overall effects of too much screen time varies and also depends on how you are engaging with it. For example, scrolling on social media is very different from writing a paper for school or work. Either way, extensive amounts of screen time can have the following effects:


  • Blurred vision, dry eyes 
  • Body tension and pain due to inactivity
  • Those who are light sensitive experience additional brain hyperactivity
  • Sleep problems due to melatonin being suppressed and the mind being overactive
  • Reward system (dopamine) imbalances


  • Difficulty being present and connecting with feelings, spaces, others and self
  • Mental health issues that increase feeling isolated, depression, anxiety
  • Weakened emotional judgment
  • Escape discomfort and difficult emotions by distracting with screen time
  • Eliminates boredom and doing nothing


  • Disconnect from deeper sense of self
  • No longer act from a place of passion, power and life purpose
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Addictions that keep you away from feeling and connecting to your inner self, knowing and intuition
  • Little time to connect with nature


  • Cognitive functioning and development is affected
  • Trouble with focusing, communicating, impulse control, weaker memory, slower information processing
  • Less ability to be present, process and connect with whats around you, spacial awareness

Socially and Relationships

  • Relationships – affects ability to connect face to face
  • Increase in anxiety, feeling uncomfortable
  • Poor communication not using cues needed in person if you are communicating only online
  • More reactionary and less present to our bodies 
  • Miss fundamental aspect of a relationship – looking into someone’s eyes
  • You lose meaning when you are not looking someone in the eye
  • Social media platforms and groups create a false sense of belonging, community and connection
  • Have difficulty carrying a conversation and being present
  • Effects deeper connection and understanding
  • Miscommunication because of not fully listening to other person

Coming Back to Center

Being present and slowing down both internally and externally takes  commitment, effort and a desire to let go of distractions and embrace feeling uncomfortable. How many times a day is your screen time a way to avoid a task, challenging emotions or situations? It becomes so second nature that you don’t even notice how it interferes with your life. A study found that 57% of people text on their phone after the lights are out! Going to bed is a time to slow down and connect within, create calm and rest.

I’ve always prided myself in being slow to jump on new technology fads.  I haven’t had a TV in over 14 years. People I worked with thought I was weird and asked what I did after work. Well, self care, meal prep, staying organized, catching up with people on the phone (talking not texting), going in nature, reading, and taking classes at the local community center. Being the odd one out has been challenging in ways because I’m disconnected from pop culture and other aspects of the online world. And I would say it has allowed me to be more connected to myself and others. Being mindful of my screen time is definitely something I have to be on top of now that I work more online. I continue to find ways to slowly shift to being more present and connected to life.

How to go from distraction to Intention

In this blog series I will focus on different areas of technology and the clutter, imbalance and disconnect it can create. With each area I’ll guide you to having a more balanced and intentional relationship with technology so that you are able to benefit from the tools it offers AND be present in the world to fully experience life.

As a starting place I recommend doing an overall inventory and intention exercise to get started.

Connecting + Creating

  1. What are your values in your life? What does that look like for you? 
  2. What is your life purpose? What gives meaning to your life?
  3. What are your intentions in your life right now? What do you want to create? How does it connect to your life purpose?


  1. Do an inventory of the types of technology you use, how you spend time on each and for how long each day. You can do this using the screen time function and other functions your device may have to track your use. Find a way to keep track of this information.
  2. Once you’ve tracked and have a sense of where your precious time is going, it’s time to trim it back. Decide what needs to go. For example, you’ve been spending on average 2 hours a night watching something on Netflix. Notice how you feel after. 


  1. Now you will recalibrate how you spend your time and replace what you are letting go of with something that aligns with your values, intentions and life purpose. Maybe you decide that you want to focus on your health and being your best. Instead of watching Netflix for two hours each day you will now dedicate one hour for reading and learning, then 30 minutes for being active in nature and then 30 minutes for journaling and meditation. 
  2. Keep in mind that this takes time and if you live with others or have children then it will require collaboration and setting boundaries. 


  1. What are going to be your anchors to keep you grounded and connected to the present moment, yourself, and what’s happening around you? Having a morning and evening routine is a key fundamental piece that can help.
  2. What other regular rhythms do you want to establish in your life? For example, having weekly connection time with those in your life or making time  for your life passions.

You might catch yourself saying: “Oh, I can’t do it because….(fill in the blank).” It takes time, consistency and commitment to make big changes. When you do, the benefits outweigh any inconveniences that come up in the beginning stages of change. Your life might be so full of screen time right now that you don’t even notice how it affects your mood and body. See how just short periods without screens affect you. Pay attention. When we build a strong foundation of positive habits, it allows us to be flexible and adaptable when the curve balls of life get thrown at us. 

the handbook


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