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Digital detox: How taking a break from screens can improve your life

KENS 5 Eyewitness News asked participants to set their own goals for cutting screen time - and checked back to see what the experience was like.

SAN ANTONIO — When you add up the time you spend on screens for work, social media and entertainment - the numbers may add up to greater than you'd think. KENS 5 Eyewitness News asked participants to try setting their own goal for cutting the amount of time they spend connected -- and got their reactions on the experiment. You can hear some of them in the video below. Then, read our Q&A with Dr. Stacy Ogbeide, an associate professor for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. 

Q & A WITH DR. STACY OGBEIDE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND COMMUNITY MEDICINE AT UT HEALTH SAN ANTONIO

KENS 5: Have you seen - or does current research show - a connection between social media use and effects on mental health?

DR. OGBEIDE: There’s actually some research that has looked at depression and anxiety rates and found people who spend a large amount of time recreationally online- social media and things like that- almost have twice the rate of depression and anxiety than folks who do not. So there is some research that looks at that– [how] the amount of screen time someone spends online makes a big difference in how they feel.

KENS 5: How high are the rates of screen time use that you're seeing?

DR. OGBEIDE: Anywhere from 10-11 hours in some type of media- podcast, radio, TV, social media, work-related screen time combined. Some of that is necessary, some of that is recreational- so when that recreational piece creeps up into double digits we have issues.

If you’re home planning a vacation and you spend 6 hours online for self-care that’s one thing, but if you’re having trouble getting your kids ready at bedtime, pulling away from your phone- that’s when it can become problematic.

KENS 5: When should I be concerned about my screen time use- and how much is acceptable?

DR. OGBEIDE: If you’re finding you’re not spending time with people you love as much, people are inviting you out to do things but you’d rather binge on Netflix- that’s when it can be problematic, when it’s taking the place of real life.

We try not so much to focus on numbers for adults- we try to focus on content and context. Some people’s jobs are online so they have to spend time on the phone and computer- that’s fine. We say, if it’s moving you away from things that are of value to you, that’s something to raise some red flags to. If it’s not and you’re still having a meaningful life and getting important things done during the day, okay. It’s a balance. If you’re feeling good, okay, if you’re feeling stressed out, maybe it’s time to do a digital detox.

As for kids, the recommendations are part of 5-2-1-0... so two hours or less of recreational screen time. 

Watch what they had to say about how they spent the extra time:

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