The internet has changed the way we work, socialise and relax – we can now do some of this online.
Gaming can be a positive and enjoyable pastime. It can help us connect with others, feel socially included and improve our self-esteem. Healthy gaming can bring structure and routine into our lives and give us some beneficial downtime, relaxation and fun.
The research is unclear how much screen time is too much. What is clear however, is that it is important to keep a healthy balance of online and offline activities in our lives.
Not all screen time is the same. Screens and devices have become essential for us to do our work and can be excellent learning devices. We can use them to connect with others, get support, master new skills, relax and have fun. Some online activities help us learn and be productive, whilst others provide downtime and enjoyment. However, there are other online activities that are less productive or maybe unhealthy, for example distressing violent games or if the content you are watching is not making you feel good. So not all screen time is equally valuable.
Signs that your screen time is becoming unhealthy
It is important to think about the impact that your screen time is having on your life in each of these areas:
● Exercise: Research has linked screen time with too much sitting! And we’re learning that sitting is like the new smoking – it’s not good for us. Are you still making time to move? Play sport or be more active?
● Sleep: is very important. If you are online or gaming when you would normally be sleeping you might need to turn off a little earlier or move your device out of your bedroom.
● Social time: Being connected to others helps us feel good. We can connect with others online but it is important to see people we care about too. Are you making time to regularly meet up with friends and family?
● Variety of activities: are you keeping up with your school tasks and work? Are you doing a variety of other activities that you enjoy like reading, music or other hobbies? Do you make time to stop and eat well? Don’t let other activities slip off the radar, they are important for you too.
● Conflict, irritability and stress: if you are getting into conflict with others about your online time or gaming, it might be time to think about the balance of screen time in your day.
● Money: are you spending more money than you can afford online or on new games or in-game purchases? This can become a problem for some people too.
What you can do about it
The amount of time you spend on your screen can sneak up without you realising it. What can you do if your screen time has gotten out of balance?
● Get other activities done first before you relax online. For example do some exercise, get your homework and chores done, walk the dog and spend time with your family before turning on your device. Treat it as a reward.
● Decide in advance how much time you want to spend online, then set a timer to help you stay within that time limit.
● Schedule in some ‘no screen times’ during your day. Set up times to ‘unplug’. Check out our digital detox page for more tips.
● Make mealtimes screen free.
● Make sure you have offline hobbies and interests that you enjoy regularly, like seeing friends or playing sport.
● Exercise while you game, by getting up and moving regularly. Doing some simple stretches can really help.
● Work out how much sleep you are getting? Sleep should be a priority, as it is important for our physical and mental health. Check out our tips on how to sleep well.
● Charge your devices outside of your room or perhaps don’t have them in your bedroom at all. It will reduce the temptation to be online instead of sleeping.
If you find that your relationships, mood, school performance or work are being impacted by your online or gaming use, then it might be useful to talk with someone you trust like a parent, teacher, school counsellor, family member or friend. Or get help now to webchat with a trained counsellor.
With the right support, most people are able to get back to enjoying the benefits that gaming and internet use can contribute to their lives.
Learning about mental health issues means you can check yourself and check in on your mates too. Click and drag side to side to scroll through the topics to learn more.
Mental health is a state of mind. Everyone has mental health, just as we all have physical health. Having positive mental health means we have strong relationships, and cope with everyday stress in life to reach our full potential.
Some people misunderstand what mental health problems really are. When this happens we can judge people the wrong way, exclude them and end up being disrespectful. We can change this by busting those myths together!
Have you got a mate who's just not themselves lately? Maybe a family member who seems angry or withdrawn? Do you want to say something but are not sure how?
It's normal to feel sad, stressed, angry or miserable, especially if we’ve gone through stressful times.
Depression is more than this.
We all know what it's like to feel worried. Unfortunately for some people, worrying, feeling on edge and panic can be much more intense and overwhelming.
A lot of people don’t think alcohol is a drug. It's actually the most widely used and easily accessible drug in New Zealand. It can have a major impact on your mental health. There's lots of help available to learn how to ease up on the drink.
No-one deserves to be bullied. Bullying is a serious problem that can disrupt your life and lead to physical and emotional health problems. You don't have to go through this alone. Help is available.
Online bullying, or cyber bullying, is when a person uses digital technology to send, post or publish content to hurt someone. There's lots of tips on how to deal with this.
Gaming is a normal and healthy part of our lives and it can have a positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. For a small number of young people, gaming can have a more negative impact on everyday life.
Grief is our natural response to loss - for example, we experience grief when someone close to us dies. We all experience grief differently. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months, for others, it's years.
There's only one of you and we want you to live well and feel good so you can be your best self. Check out tips and tools on how to feel good.
Looking for ideas of how to reduce our stress and anxiety? Practising mindfulness activities can help us chill out and clear our minds, so we can deal with things better.
Did you know that feeling grateful for what we have can improve our mental wealth? Appreciating people and things makes us happy! But it takes a lot of practice so give it a try.
Recharge and refresh yourself! Perhaps it's time to step away, have a break from those digital devices that take up all of our time and focus. Sometimes we can lose track of reality and our relationships with the real world. A digital detox might just help us recharge, regain sight of what’s important and take better care of ourselves.
A good sleep at night helps you manage better during the day. Learn to overcome those annoying things that keep you awake and how to get a good pattern of sleep.
If we want to feel good, we need to make the right choices about what we eat and drink. What we eat and drink not only affects our appearance, but also our energy levels, and the way we think about feel about ourselves.
A strong body supports a strong mind and can help us cope with things like stress, anger and anxiety. There's lots of fun ways to get moving, on your own or with mates. Every little bit counts!
Your mental wealth relies on you taking the time to look after both your body and mind. Sometimes life gets so busy, and you forget to take time out to relax, rest and recharge. Breathing is another way to take your relaxation in life to the next level.
Spirituality generates positive emotions in people. Whether it's about having a greater purpose in life, a religion, or living out your personal values, spirituality can make us feel good.
It's a fact that people who are connected are more likely to be happy. Find out how to stay connected so you look after your mental wealth.
If you or someone you know is in immediate physical danger, call 111 now. If you're experiencing mental health problems or need support, help is a phone call away.
Staying connected to friends, whānau, school, work, nature and the world around you is critical to your wellbeing.
Are you worried about a family member's gaming habits and internet use? Learn how to engage in conversation with them.
We really value screen time because it can be fun and relaxing. But too much screen time can get in the way of other activities that are good for us, like socialising, sleep and exercise.
Finding a balance between time online and other activities is important for your physical and mental health.
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Atu-Mai: culturally-based tools to support Pacific young people to unleash their full potential.
Advice and information on how to be part of a support network for a distressed young person.