Screen Time: The Real Deal

Recently I had an eye exam. When asked “How many hours a day do you spend on the computer?” I jokingly said “24.” The ophthalmologist looked genuinely concerned so I estimated 8. Still the concern!

It gave me pause, though. I wondered how much time I actually do spend on the computer or tablet (I don’t have a smart enough smartphone to bother with). So, I decided to track my personal computer use for a couple of weeks. Looking only at non-work computer use, I came up with an average of 1 hour 45 minutes for weekdays, and 3.5 hours on weekends. There were a few “outlier” days: 4 to 6 hours on days when I did a blog post, and only 20 or 30 minutes when I left for work early and had evening activities.

I tracked computer use at work for a few days. It ranged from 15 minutes one meeting-heavy day, to 5 hours one document-intensive day. But the use was more intermittent than I thought it would be, and I am usually able to vary my activities a lot. I would estimate it averages 3 hours of each 7-hour workday, except when I’m preparing presentations and reports.

This is a sample day (Tuesday, April 11):

20              5:25-5:45        Start day, get ready to leave house

75              5:45-7              Gym (1 hr plus travel time)

5                7-7:05             Make coffee

40              7:05-7:45         Breakfast over Facebook, email, blog reading, Goodreads, weather (40 computer time)

60              7:45-8:45         Shower, dress, prepare work snacks, read

15              8:45-9               Walk to work

15              9-9:15               Work email (15 computer time)

15              9:15-9:30          Scheduling

30              9:30-10            Prep for afternoon meeting (30 computer time)

120            10-12                Information desk (60 minutes of computer time, 60 not)

60              12-1                  Walk home for lunch (to/from) (30), lunch & reading (30)

15              1-1:15                Staff matters (supervision)

30              1:15-1:45          Read reports, new budget (30 computer time)

45              1:45-2:30         Create new budget templates (45 computer time)

45              2:30-3:15          Budget meeting (on site)

15              3:15-3:30          Work email (15 computer time)

30              3:30-4:00         Start proposal (30 computer time)

20              4-4:20              Weed books

40              4:20-5              Staff matters (supervision)

15              5-5:15               Walk home

20              5:15-5:35          Feed cats, wash lunch dishes, check flyers for sales/coupons

55              5:35-6:30         Cook

30              6:30-7               Dinner, chat

20              7-7:20               Found/cleaned hummingbird feeder and made solution

60              7:20-8:20         Budget, banking, Fitbit app, Google search, personal email, news

40              8:20-9:00         Make popcorn, watch YouTube videos with Rom

35              9:00-9:35          Make work lunch (chop veg for salad, etc.), pack gym bag

40              9:35-10:15        Read, ready for bed

 

TOTAL 325 (5 hr 25)

Personal 100 (1 hr 40) – plus a couple of Topi the Corgi videos!

Work 225 (3 hr 45) – a little more than average

Most of my reading is print books rather than e-books.

 

There you go, a day in the life. The excitement never stops 😊

What is your screen time like?

And yes, I do have progressive lenses with the anti-reflective coating!

21 comments

  1. I’m largely desk/computer focused at work – but don’t have to be! Once every so often, I’ll spend 4-5 hours on site with staff, or similar amounts in face to face meetings. At home, more nights are busy than not, so I’ll be minimal at home on nights with Barre. Weekends, I tend to catch up on blog posts which aren’t fully in an email (which I use as ‘breaks’ and read at work now). I’m sure I could do more mobile stuff and less screen stuff for sure!

    • Yes, I have a lot of meetings with staff too, and site visits and programs and so on, so my job isn’t completely computer based. I like the variety. I don’t have so much going on in the evenings (I go to the gym or pool in the morning) so I have to pay attention not to spend the whole evening at the computer.

  2. Oh goodness, pretty sure my screen time is much higher. At work, if I don’t have meetings, I can be on the computer 6-7 hours. And then I’m on a lot at home too. I even prefer to do my reading on my ipad via the Kindle app. I don’t wear glasses, but am getting borderline to needing them. 😦

    Am also jealous if you consistently stick to a 7 hour work day? Mine should be 8, but I often eat at my desk and stay late to try and keep up.

    • I am lucky to work 7 hours. I work overtime in small increments (a hour here and there) but not daily. I suppose I’m always aware of work, and check my work emails at home, but it’s not too intrusive. Your vision has probably stabilized by now!

  3. If “screen time” equates to “on a computer” then I normally spend zero time there unless I’m writing/editing a blog post. However, I use my mobile for a lot of things: answering work emails, scheduling appointments, researching a variety of topics, and reading blogs. I easily spend 3+ hours a day engaged in those activities. I don’t do Facebook or Twitter or any other social media though, and I don’t text a lot.

    People who are glued to their phones and who jump to see what every little notification is about, to the detriment of quality face-to-face relationships…

    I don’t get it.

    I am hyper-aware of my own actions in that regard and I make a conscious effort to NOT be *that* person.

    • At a family dinner for nine this weekend, three cell phones were out at the dinner table. It starts with wanting to show each other photos – fair enough – but usually morphs into checking texts and notifications, and then killing time when conversation wanes. A slippery slope!

  4. Since I started my leave of absence from work, my screen time has definitely reduced. My real challenge is to not get on the ipad when I wake up at night to “research” some random idea that came to me in my sleep. I’m definitely doing better at limiting my screen time than say 2 years ago

  5. food for thought, I have a predominantly office based job and spend most of that at the computer! I have been very conscious of the amount of time, I surf the net on my phone, especially in the evenings.

    • Hi Angie, I always thought I spent the whole work day at the computer, but when I tracked it, I also spend a lot of time in meetings, talking with staff, dealing with actual books in the library, and so on. The computer is always on but I don’t access it every minute. Unless you are doing data entry, invoicing, etc. you might not be using the computer as much as you think.

  6. Fiona

    I think that’s pretty moderate screen time given work requirements. I honestly don’t know how much time I spend online. I do lots and lots of non-stop intermittent notifications and browsing on my phone before and after work (must be dreadful for my eyes.) Lots of that nowadays is work colleagues and kid Snapchats! At work (8am-4:30ish) screen-time is pretty limited by up-front teaching and no phone time. But nights, I often come home and do several hours making resources, updating assessment, browsing for info or online resources. I think I’d do minimum 3 hours a day on screens but lots is work-related.

    • That sounds good to me. The inability to use phones and computers in the classroom would really keep things in balance!

    • Jamie

      Hi Fiona,
      I was thinking of you today. Are you still blogging? I’ve sent through a request to view your blog. I’m not sure if it will come from my Blogger account or my WordPress account.

      I hope you are all well.

  7. Margie in Toronto

    When I was working I probably spent at least 5 hours out of 7.5 onscreen – and yes, those progressive lenses with a slight tint really helped take some of the strain off my eyes.
    I am trying to limit screen time at home to about half an hour in the morning (checking emails & online news + 1 or 2 blogs). Then I try to be outdoors for a bit but even when I’m home I’m trying not to be on the computer or watching day-time TV – I listen to the Classical Music station while working.
    I do go back online during the evening – off & on – probably a total of 2 hours overall – but it’s in fits & starts between reading or TV watching.
    I have a very basic cell phone with no online capability – no Ereader – no IPad. Have no intentions of spending hundreds & hundred for a Smartphone – had a Kindle but gave it away – no interest in carrying around an iPad all day.
    I also try to take some breaks away from my laptop – it’s hard. I never thought of myself as being addicted – certainly not as bad as many of my friends – but it’s insidious and I find it’s good for me to take a break now and again.

    • Your computer time management sounds good! I spend some time outdoors every day too (about an hour of walking). I think my activities are varied enough that I don’t worry. But you’re right; it can become insidious!

  8. My ophthalmologist asked me the same question, too, last year. I had undergone Lasik to correct myopia many years ago, but because I have not been looking after my eyes, they have deteriorated again, which I believe is infrequent amongst those who have had the procedure. I do spend all my time at work at the computer. I have never actually monitored my screen time at home although I have always thought it’s not excessive. Or, maybe it is… your post has got me thinking, something the ophthalmologist did not manage to do.

    • I was going to say, “How does someone look after their eyes?” but when I thought about it, I take a lot of breaks, I purposely look off into the distance for a while, and so on. The rare unbroken day-and-evening I spend in front of a screen, my eyes feel scratchy and burny, and I vow never to do it again! The worst days are when I spend so much time in front of the computer at work that I know I shouldn’t add on any computer time at home that evening – and I usually do manage to resist (or keep it to 10-20 minutes) otherwise it does bother my eyes.

  9. Between spending almost my entire workday in front of a screen and then using a screen for some “winding down” time at home… The amount of screen time I get is too depressing to even think about. I’ve always had very good eyesight, but at 35 years old I’m starting to feel the strain from staring at all these screens. Hopefully I can largely get away from them in a few years. That eyestrain combined with all that chair-sitting is really not good for your health.

    And thank you for introducing me to Topi The Corgi!

    • Hi Norm, Thanks for stopping by. I am afraid that if I worked less, I would have MORE personal screen time – I suspect my job prevents me from frittering away whole days online! Glad you like Topi 🙂

  10. O-o-o-o: I work 32 hours/week in an online office, I study 20 h/w in an online class-room, read on wi-if connected tablet at night. How much is that per day?
    You just confirmed that I really do not need a smarter phone so I can be online on walks, toilet-breaks and training time too.

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