Before the pandemic, Americans spent more than 17 hours a day staring at screens. This figure increased dramatically during lockdown, with citizens spending an additional two hours glued to their gadgets to stave off boredom.
If these trends continue, the average American could end up wasting a collective 44 years — if not more — looking at phones, tablets, computers, TVs and other electronic devices.
Aside from being a massive time suck, digital media can easily leave you feeling depleted. When you spend the vast majority of your day online, you have little time for much else.
Frequent media consumption and having to recharge devices can also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the ever-worsening climate crisis.
Digital minimalism may offer a solution. Unlike social media fasts, this concept doesn’t prohibit the use of technology. Instead, it encourages you to intentionally shape your digital life around your values so you can feel good about the time you spend on and offline.
Here’s what you have to look forward to if you do decide to give digital minimalism a go.
Physical activity, a healthy diet and even rest and relaxation can all promote higher energy levels throughout the day.
Meanwhile, staring at screens does the exact opposite. Most electronic devices emit blue light, which can tire your eyes and disrupt your circadian rhythm, making sleep and major challenge. Fear of missing out can also keep you up at night and leave you running on empty the next day.
Taking a minimalist approach to social media and digital devices will allow more time for mood and energy-boosting activities. Sleep better, maximize your time and wake up refreshed by unfriending exes, deleting unused apps and closely monitoring your screen time.
Embracing digital minimalism can also improve your concentration and focus, which can do wonders for your overall sense of wellbeing.
Instead of hopping between screens and keeping multiple tabs open at once, minimize distractions and your need for instant gratification by consciously disconnecting.
That way you can actually focus on work, family, friends and all those precious moments that make life extra meaningful.
Reduce Electricity Use
The electricity sector is responsible for 25% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions. As the country makes a transition to cleaner energy sources, this share will inevitably drop.
Until then, however, you’ll have to rely on fossil fuels to juice up your devices, which contributes to a plethora of crises, including climate change and pollution.
In recent years, some companies like Apple have updated products to include long-lasting batteries that use less energy and require less frequent charging.
However, these improvements are like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. Unless the general public is willing to make significant screen time reductions, they’ll do little to reduce electricity use and cut carbon emissions.
Using your devices less often can also reduce the demand for new tech, conserve resources and ultimately minimize unnecessary waste.
There’s no need to purchase a new gadget when it has plenty of digital storage space, good battery life and is in decent condition. That means fewer phones, computers, TVs and similar tech will end up in landfills and that’s great news for planet Earth.
E-waste comprises 70% of global toxic waste and less than 13% is ever recycled. When LCD desktop monitors, plasma TVs and other hazardous items end up in the trash, they emit mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and other known carcinogens.
Luckily, you can extend the life of all your devices and reduce your carbon footprint by using them less often — and only upgrading when necessary.
Cultivating Mindfulness with Digital Minimalism
The more you pare down your time online, the better off both you and the planet will be.
As you practice digital minimalism and experience its many benefits, you’ll inevitably become more aware of how you spend the rest of your day. Perhaps you partake in other time wasters that don’t align with your values.
If possible, take a minimalist approach to these activities, too. Rearrange your priorities so they support your health and happiness and carry that same self-reflective mindfulness with you throughout the rest of your life.
It’ll guide you to what’s most important and help you leave behind whatever doesn’t serve you or Mother Earth.