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In a world dominated by screens, pursuing a balance between technology and well-being has become a universal quest. Research suggests that today, an average person looks at their phone around 150 times a day – once every 6 minutes. Globally, average daily screen time is 6 hours 58 minutes.
For adults, the average daily screen time (smartphones) is 3 hours and 43 minutes, or 53.5% of their online time looking at their phone screens, according to data from 2021.
Thanks to apps that control and plan every aspect of our day, digitalization is ever more incorporated into our lives. Our screens are the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we look at before going to bed.
Screen time refers to how much time someone spends looking at screens on devices like smartphones, computers, TVs, and gaming consoles.
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The relationship between screen time and mental well-being has been extensively studied, especially regarding children and adolescents, and the results from these studies are mixed.
Some research shows that spending too much time on screens can lead to problems like depression, anxiety, and brain fog. Another strand of research highlights the possible positive effects of screens that can boost creativity, make people happier overall, and provide social benefits for adults using social media.
However, most would agree that the idea of being addicted to smartphones and screen time is of genuine concern. As various media forms/types become a more significant component of our daily lives, it is difficult to ignore that many of us are increasingly addicted to screens.
A study examined how short-form media influences addiction behavior, finding that short-form video features influence addiction by activating users’ perceived enjoyment and feelings of withdrawal. These videos can trigger feelings of joy and a need to watch more to keep feeling good or eliminate bad feelings, creating a cycle.
Amidst this digital sea, an age-old practice offers a beacon of hope: yoga. Yoga has always had a positive reputation for promoting mental health and detoxification. Today, we will dive into the influence of yoga on screen time using data to uncover the captivating story of how yoga can infuse our lives with mindful screen usage.
The Proven Impact: Daily Yoga Slashes Screen Time
The data used in this article measures daily minutes of screen time between April 17th and May 14th, as well as the screen time spent on specific categories of phone usage.
At first glance, introducing daily yoga practice initiates a fascinating shift. Before introducing yoga to the subjects’ daily routine, their average screen time per day was 126 minutes; with yoga, there was a decrease of 22.3 minutes, reducing the average to 103.7 minutes per day.
When looking at the categories of apps, time spent on “social networking” apps was reduced to approximately 5 minutes per day, and time spent on “reading and reference” apps decreased by about 7. Time spent on “health and fitness” apps lowered by approximately 0.5 minutes per day, while for “entertainment” apps, a 2.5 minutes a day decrease was observed, as for the “creativity” category, there was a 0.23 minute increase.
Yoga is known for its influence extending beyond the physical realm. The practice encourages mindfulness, self-awareness, and introspection. These qualities are invaluable tools in our battle against screen time excess.
By cultivating mindfulness through yoga, individuals can be better equipped to recognize the urge to scroll mindlessly and make conscious choices to disconnect from their devices.
Yoga can reduce screen time by controlling stress levels as well. Modern life’s stressors often drive excessive screen time. Research indicates that yoga is effective in reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
This newfound calmness can translate into more mindful choices regarding screen time as individuals become more attuned to the impact of excessive digital engagement on their mental state.
Weekly Screen Time Trends: The Yoga Effect Over Time
If we compare weekly rhythms, there was an increase in screen time from weeks 15 to 16. Later, screen time decreases slightly from week 17 to week 18, whereas week 19 shows a drastic decrease. However, it is essential to note that this is the last week of the observation, and there is no further data.
We can see from this data that reduction in screen time does not orchestrate as soon as yoga is introduced, but as yoga becomes a daily habit with time, it might have significantly reduced screen time.
Week 15(April 7-13): 523 minutes
Week 16(April 14-20): 904 minutes
Week 17(April 21-27): 719 minutes
Week 18(April 28-May 4): 824 minutes
Week 19(May 5-11): 201 minutes
Day-by-Day: How Yoga Influences Daily Screen Habits
The study has provided useful insights for those wondering what day of the week screen time is the highest. The data was grouped by the “Week Day” column, calculating the average screen time for each day of the week.
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Overall, screen time is the highest on Wednesday and Friday, while Sunday has the lowest average screen time. As we move towards the weekend, there is a general decline in screen time.
The relationship between the day of the week and category-specific screen time is as follows: screen time in Social Networking and other categories peaks around Wednesday and Friday, similar to the overall trend, then drops significantly on Sunday.
Reading and Reference peaks on Friday but remains relatively stable throughout the week, with a decline on Sunday.
Overall, the trends for these categories align with the screen time trend, with mid-week (Wednesday) generally having higher screen time and a significant decline on Sunday.
The Yoga Secret: Why It’s a Game-Changer for Screen Addiction
Screen time and digital devices are subject to various factors, but digital addiction can be reduced to two core ideas: “inability to be present” and “need for validation.” Our minds wander quickly, and thoughts tend to “snowball” toward worst-case scenarios, a.k.a. the monkey mind.
When our minds are anxious, we quickly forget whatever we are doing in the present. When off our devices, we must face this present, meet the self, and face our thoughts and feelings – this idea is uncomfortable.
Screen time helps us avoid these gaps, the stillness, the silence, and the discomfort of just being. Because just being is uncomfortable. When our mind is not doing anything, the mind jumps from one thought to another like a butterfly.
Our brain is a three-pound universe that processes roughly 70,000 thoughts daily using 100 billion neurons connecting at more than 500 trillion points through synapses that travel 300 miles/hour.
This translates to about 3,000 thoughts per hour or 50 per minute, just under one per second. These thoughts can range from worries, woes, the vicissitudes of life, laundry lists, travel plans, life ten years down the road, memories and reflections, daydreams or fantasies, and relationships – damaged or formed. Everything about life and the universe.
This cascade of thoughts and emotions can be profoundly unsettling, and our devices grant us an escape from this self-confrontation.
At the core of human yearning lies the desire for attention, validation, and a sense of being indispensable.
The binding rope is the assurance that someone or something is seeking us, a task that necessitates our presence.
This connection to the world through media or content alleviates the fear of missing out, delivering a reassuring affirmation of self-worth.
Similarly, one can derive a feeling of productivity from engagement with screens. I’m doing something; I’m watching something; I’m absorbing information; I’m not doing anything – this is a testament that we are not idle and a way to combat the feeling of failure that lurks when we are not actively producing.
Our screens are the ultimate device for the reassurance of existence.
We have spent a lifetime avoiding being in the present moment. It takes a tremendous amount of awareness and effort to get off-grid. To embrace “now” can feel like we are falling into emptiness.
Suddenly, we face being, so we must learn a different way of experiencing self, prompting exploration of how yoga contributes to this transformative process.
To counter the fluttering mind, achieve a state of tranquility, and develop awareness, we must master being in the present. This can be initiated by directing attention to the breath.
Yoga postures encompass a physical engagement of the body’s core and limbs, synchronized with breathing. While transitioning between poses, inhalation and exhalation are coordinated, such as “inhale, head-up; exhale, forward fold, head to knee,” or “inhale, kick leg into the air; inhale, bring the leg in, knee to nose.”
This synchronized breathing allows a seamless flow between poses that can only be achieved with an entire presence and focus during yoga practice.
Drawing attention to breathing helps yogis remain present while transitioning through different asanas.
It is essential to control the breath and steady the mind long enough to allow one to stay in a pose, reaping the benefits of each pose while avoiding injury.
You need to be able to feel every muscle and nerve and practice endurance and patience for however long the pose lasts to reach a state of self-realization.
Otherwise, you are merely going through the motions without any genuine concept of the deeper meaning of practicing yoga. To fully harness the advantages of being present during yoga, students must actively channel their attention toward their breath, physical sensations, and the current moment while maintaining a composed mental state.
There is a more straightforward explanation for this. When one’s attention concentrates on inhalation and exhalation, you can also think about the lousy feedback you got from your boss at work yesterday or the groceries needed.
Breathing teaches us to be mindful by observing what is happening in the present moment, not trying to escape it by thinking of the past or future, and refraining from judgment, instead, merely observing it.
Meditation is a key pillar, too.
Meditation, a key pillar of yoga, also offers the same concept. Meditation is paying particular attention to the present. It is not emptying your mind or focusing on an image, imagining something in your mind, or chanting something – it is about being present in the moment.
While aiming to focus on your breath during meditation, it’s natural for your thoughts to wander. In meditation, we acknowledge these thoughts or feelings without passing judgment.
Meditation involves bringing your focus back to the present. This awareness can help you connect with your physical and emotional sensations, noticing what you’re experiencing in the moment.
The key is to observe without judging. Your emotions aren’t labeled as good or bad – they just exist, and you’re observing them.
Similarly, you can use present-moment awareness to shift away from overthinking and anchor yourself in your current surroundings.
This technique is effective for managing intense stress and anxiety. Noticing your surroundings can break the cycle of negative thoughts and calm the nervous system.
One of the most exciting studies in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), a brain network responsible for wandering thoughts and self-related thinking.
The DMN is active when we aren’t focusing on anything specific, and our minds jump between thoughts. Since this kind of mind-wandering often leads to unhappiness, rumination, and worry about the past and future, many aim to reduce it. Multiple studies suggest that meditation achieves this by calming the DMN.
Moreover, meditation enhances the ability to refocus, thanks to new connections forming in the brain so that even when the mind strays, meditators are better at snapping out of it.
Another great advantage of mindfulness meditation is its ability to turn off your body’s “fight or flight” response, which is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. When faced with a threat, this system releases stress hormones to help you fight or flee.
After the danger passes, the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, promoting rest and relaxation.
Through meditation, you effectively switch off the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic side. With consistent practice, this approach can help reduce pain, depression, stress, and anxiety.
Additionally, calming the sympathetic nervous system through meditation is highlighted by experts as a way to decrease emotional reactivity.
Decreasing emotional reactivity or decreasing the negative feelings, in the beginning, can help us disengage from resorting to gadgets when feeling anxious – but instead strengthen our ability to handle and process it on our own.
Mastering Digital Balance: Yoga’s Role in Harmonious Living
As we wrap up our exploration, it is evident that yoga’s impact on screen time is not a coincidence but a harmonious interplay between science, ancient wisdom, and practical experience.
The data offers a microcosmic view of a broader phenomenon supported by research and testimonies from individuals across the globe.
Yoga, by emphasizing mindfulness, stress reduction, and holistic well-being, is a potent tool for navigating our digital age. While the dataset showcases the beginnings of change, it is essential to remember that transformation is a journey, not an overnight occurrence.
As we embrace the practice of yoga, we embark on a path beyond screen time reduction—a journey toward more balance, self-awareness, and mindful living in the digital era.
While immediate results may not mirror expectations, the cumulative shift towards mindful engagement will be unmistakable. They remind us that the path to harmonious living evolves through patience and practice.
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