Benefits of Decreasing Screen Time

  • by Eric S. Studley, DDS, and Ivy D. Peltz, DDS, MSEd, PhD, MAGD
  • Feb 27, 2023
2-27-23_WellnessUndeniably, electronic devices have completely changed our lives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were grateful for the apps that allowed us to continue to function. We used home computers to conduct business, manage our purchases and deliveries, lead us in workouts, help us communicate with loved ones, educate us, and remind us to breathe. With or without a pandemic, our professional and private lives are more efficient thanks to technology, and we can often complete necessary and otherwise time-consuming tasks in moments from the comfort of our homes. 

We can also find endless entertainment online. So why should we take our eyes off our devices? Some benefits of decreasing screen time are obvious. 

Most of us are not in ergonomic postures when looking at our devices, so we know that less time online could eliminate some bodily discomfort and free up time to exercise and stretch. We can reduce anxiety and boost self-confidence by having our own experiences, rather than comparing ourselves to those who are constantly sharing happy moments on social media. Limiting time at our devices also can create time for activities that bring us pleasure. Regardless, we still sit in front of our screens more than needed. 

Those of us with children or grandchildren were dismayed that they missed school during the pandemic. Most of them had access to technology with which they could learn the same course material as if they were physically at school. Yet we worry that, given the distractions of social media and gaming, few of them availed themselves of online educational resources. For those who kept up academically, we worry about their lack of socially interactive experiences that contribute to growth. 

The reason we worry is that, contrary to popular belief, not everything can be found online. 

While in pandemic-driven isolation, we were grateful for the video chats that allowed us to see our loved ones in real time. Few would argue, however, that video chats are valid substitutes for in-person visits. Video chats can’t impart the strength of a handshake or a hug. They are devoid of scent. They may portray only a portion of a person, making it easy to miss visual cues. They rely on Wi-Fi, which can be spotty and create delays and gaps in the conversation. An in-person visit allows us to use all our senses to communicate, which is far more effective than any type of digital message. 

Too much time at our devices encourages isolation. However, humans are innately social animals. We work, play, live and love together. We depend on socializing with others to create a sense of belonging because, without belonging, we risk losing our sense of well-being. We also need others to challenge ourselves, lest we become complacent or unreasonably entrenched in our own beliefs. Additionally, we need others to hone our interpersonal skills, which, like any other skills, require development and practice. The more one isolates, the more one is isolated. 

For self-directed learners, technology has produced a never-ending source of accessible information. The learning process can now continue without interruption and without end. But experiential learning theorists would argue that the best learning occurs when individuals experience an event on their own, reflect on their experience, synthesize the information and apply lessons learned from that experience to other similar situations. In this model, learning by sitting in front of a computer cannot take the place of learning by experiencing something firsthand. Note that, in this learning model, we need to allow our brains the time to rest and reflect to properly process information. However, the ubiquity of information online distracts our attention from this essential component of effective learning and instead promotes immediately diving into the next lesson. 

At this point, it’s not desirable, feasible or advisable to turn off our devices. We need the convenience, efficiency and assistance they afford our daily lives. We would be wise to remember, though, that electronic devices are merely aids. To live our most meaningful lives, we must continue to make time for the sensory experiences and human connections that define us. 

Eric S. Studley, DDS, is the president and CEO of Eric S. Studley & Associates, an insurance brokerage company specializing in the insurance and financial needs of dentists. Ivy D. Peltz, DDS, MSEd, PhD, MAGD, is retired from private practice in New York City. They are both retired from academic positions at the New York University College of Dentistry. Together, they co-founded Doccupations, the dental career services component of Eric S. Studley & Associates. To comment on this article, email