Screen Time Reduction & Self-Care Tips

During this period of remote learning, it is desirable for many people to avoid excessive screen time. While most people are feeling Zoom fatigue these days, screen time can exacerbate certain conditions and can be especially difficult for those recovering from a concussion or with chronic migraine conditions. Below are tips gathered by SAS from experts and fellow students to help reduce overall screen time.

Take Control of Zoom and Screen Time

  • For classes in which you’re expected to be on camera, consider dimming your screen or putting the screen to sleep – you’re still on camera, but without the strain of staring at the screen. Use a Mac? Try setting up a hot corner to quickly put the screen to sleep.
  • Try changing your view to speaker view so that you’re attending visually only to whoever is talking. If you prefer gallery view, consider turning off your view of yourself.
  • Be thoughtful about what needs to be a Zoom meeting and what does not. When feasible, consider calling in to Zoom to avoid screen time.
  • If you struggle with distractions on screen, maximize your zoom view and disable audio notifications on email, text, etc.
  • Zoom fatigue is also caused by the effort to remain focused and actively looking at the screen for long periods of time. When we’re in a physical classroom, we don’t spend the entire time with our eyes glued to the faculty member at the front of the class. We look down at our notebook, we look across the room, sometimes we even close our eyes for a minute. All of this active engagement with the camera can add to the exhaustion!  Find ways to look at non-digital things frequently. For example, position your desk facing a window, so you can focus your gaze outside during long zoom sessions.
  • Schedule brain breaks between meetings by getting up from your desk, avoiding all screens, and doing some sort of physical exercise (take a walk, do some pushups, jog in place, whatever works for you). It’s ideal if you can get your body moving and keep your eyes off-task.

Use Digital Materials Responsibly

  • Work on reducing your exposure to blue light by changing screen settings, available on both Mac or Windows platforms. You can also purchase inexpensive laptop filter screens or blue light reduction glasses, and many students report great results from these. Simply dimming your screen can often help as well.
  • When you have a choice between using a digital tool or a physical one, always choose physical.
    • You can still check-out physical books from the Yale library using Borrow Direct, whether you’re in New Haven or elsewhere in the United States.
  • If you need to read from a digital text, consider using audio books or text-to-speech (TTS) when possible.
    • Use the TTS built-in to your operating system (Mac, Windows) to read texts aloud to you, rather than reading with your eyes.
    • Yale libraries can scan and deliver readings to you.
    • The Gutenberg Project provides over 60,000 eBooks for free.
  • Use dictation tools (Mac, Windows) to talk instead of type. This is great for any informal writing or rough drafts.
  • If you have a hard time tracking when reading a digital copy, consider the simple plug-in Beeline Reader. Beeline Reader adds a gradient to on-screen text, helping to reduce eye strain and making tracking easier.
  • If you are a student with a disability, talk to SAS to see if any other options might be available to you.

Prioritize Wellness and Take Time for Self-Care

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