Balance time online

Being connected has great benefits but you to need to make sure your online world does not take over your life.

Online gaming is fun, social media is a great way to stay in touch, and there are always movies and TV to binge on. With so much available online whenever and wherever you want, it’s very easy to find yourself spending a lot of time in front of a screen.

How much is too much?

Working out how much time online is ‘too much’ will vary from person to person. It is also important to consider the quality of any content or activities you are engaging with online. Be aware of how your time online may be affecting your friendships, your family, health, and work or study. If any of these areas of your life are becoming a problem, it is likely that you need to cut back on the amount of time you spend online.

How do I know if I have a problem?

The following may be signs that you spend too much time online:

  • ongoing headaches, eye strain and sleep disturbance 
  • online activities interfering with your health and wellbeing, or your relationships
  • constantly talking about particular online programs, such as a gaming site
  • withdrawal from your ‘real world’ friends and activities
  • attributing more importance to your online activities and contacts than anything else
  • decline in performance at work or school.

What can I do?

Here are some things to try:

  • Turn off notifications for your social media apps.
  • Monitor or limit your phone use — many phones have settings that allow you to track how long you spend on apps and set daily usage limits. Activate these on your phone and look out for other apps that can help you be more aware of how you use your screen time.
  • Make a plan — this could include more time offline for friends, your favourite sports and other activities you enjoy.
  • If you feel you are spending too much time playing games, check out our advice on safe online gaming.

Tips for young people

Take control of your online experience, rather than letting it control you. It can be tricky to put technology down completely, given that you might use it every day for school or work, but there are ways you can stop yourself from checking it so frequently. I think I’m spending too much time online.

Tips for parents and carers

Help your child achieve a healthy balance between time spent online in front of a screen and more physically active ‘offline’ time.

A guide to keeping online time under control for parents and carers.