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‘Turn it off Today’: Texas Medical Association encourages Texans to cut down on screen time

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Posted at 10:12 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 03:35:01-05

American adults spend an average of 11 hours per day staring some kind of a screen, but that can have serious mental health consequences.

A new initiative from the Texas Medical Association is hoping to get people off their phones and into a better head space.

"There's been a lot of research that's showing that too much screen time is associated with depression, especially in the younger population," said Dr. Eman Attaya, M.D., a diagnostic radiologist from Lubbock and a member of the Texas Medical Association Council on Health Promotion.

That research and increase in suicide among adolescents inspired the "Turn it off Today" campaign, which encourages families to spend less time on screens throughout the day.

Depression, anxiety, increased stress and sleep disturbances are all possible effects of overuse of devices for adults and teens. Now, even infants are being affected by screen overuse.

"Studies are now showing that it actually alters the brain, the integrity of the white matter of the brain," Attaya said. "It's causing developmental delays and cognitive delays."

The TMA offers some possible daily goals for adults and teens who want to limit their screen time:

  • Turn off notifications on my devices
  • Use the time limit setting on my devices
  • Employ device options (e.g., flip phone, limited apps, no notifications)
  • Monitor app use from my phone
  • Turn It Off one hour before bedtime
  • Turn It Off one day a week for eight weeks
  • Turn It Off 6-8 p.m.

They offer possible daily goals for children as well:

  • Turn off notifications on my devices
  • Use the time limit setting on my devices
  • Read a book
  • Play board games
  • Turn It Off one hour before bedtime
  • Turn It Off one day a week for eight weeks
  • Turn It Off 6-8 p.m.

"Now everybody's communicating through a text message, through devices, and you're losing that social, face-to-face connection," Attaya said.

The TMA recommends replacing screen time with "green time", or spending more time outdoors.

For more tips on how to reduce your screen time this year, visit the Texas Medical Association website. The TMA also offers pledge cards for families to sign to commit to reducing the time they spend on screens.