Over the last few weeks, we’ve all become a lot more familiar with our electronic devices. Whether using a laptop to work remotely, a tablet to connect to online education, or a phone to stay updated on news surrounding COVID-19, studies estimate that screen time has nearly doubled since the beginning of March—for kids and adults.
It’s easy to feel frustrated or overwhelmed by this spike in device use. Shouldn’t we be reading books, doing puzzles, pursuing new hobbies, and taking walks? In a perfect world, sure. But none of us live in a perfect world. We’re all doing the best we can in these trying times—and if that means more time online, that’s OK, experts say. “There is no science behind this right now,” says Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician and media specialist at the University of Michigan. “If you are looking for specific time limits, then I would say: Don’t be on it all day.”
If you are going to spend several hours a day on your electronic device, shouldn’t you use at least some of that time positively and productively? From calling old friends to expanding your horizons to doing your part to stay safe, CMIT Solutions has collected 10 of our favorite tips for turning prolonged screen time into a force for good.
1) Stay in touch.
Hundreds of millions of North Americans are keeping their physical distance from each other to slow the spread of COVID-19. But many are reporting deeper and more meaningful relationships with distant relatives and old friends thanks to regularly scheduled video chats, ongoing text conversations, and even good old-fashioned phone calls. Use this time of physical separation to reach out and talk to someone you miss.
2) Sew a mask.
Once the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommended that everyone wear a cloth mask while in public, creativity was unleashed across North America. Some people began sewing cloth masks out of old T-shirts or linens. Some used new fabrics and patterns to add a personal touch to their face coverings. Some even chipped in to sew masks for health care workers, with everyone from Amish seamstresses to fashion icons contributing to the cause. Whatever your goal, you can find easy-to-implement mask-sewing patterns online.
3) Organize your photos.
Now that we all effectively carry a high-powered camera around in our pocket, the number of photos we take on a daily basis is staggering. Instead of just uploading them to the cloud (and then forgetting about them), use the extra time afforded by stay-at-home measures to finally organize them. Whether you keep photos on your phone, on your desktop computer, or on an external hard drive, you can group them by date, location, or subject. And if you have a printer at home, consider printing out some of your favorites to frame or put in a scrapbook.
4) Donate to charity.
If your financial situation allows you to do so, supporting your favorite non-profit has never been easier. From text message contributions to online donations, you can make a difference in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider food banks, essential supply drives, health care organizations, and charities that support vulnerable populations. As always, vet the charity you want to support first by examining pertinent information about how they distribute their money.
5) Explore a museum.
Stuck at home with nowhere to go? Think again. Hundreds of the world’s top museums have responded to these trying times by developing virtual tours and other online programming. Many of them, including the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, have endless hours of information available at Google’s new Arts & Culture website.
6) Enrich your mind.
You don’t have to look at paintings to broaden your horizons, however. Want to learn something new? Consider educational lectures and tutorials like the MasterClass platform. Want to watch a musical? Many Broadway plays are streaming for at-home audiences. Love live music? Artists across the spectrum are performing from their living room. Always wanted to watch a famous movie or binge watch a critically acclaimed television series? Now’s the time to do it—without judgment, too, since nearly everyone else is doing the same thing.
7) Clean your desktop.
If you’re using your device for large chunks of the day, shouldn’t it be well organized? Don’t let overuse lead to disorganization. Instead, organize documents and icons on your desktop into labeled folders. Align those folders into grids to streamline the look and feel of your computer. Change download destinations to a specific folder, and clean them out regularly. Finally, give your keyboard, mouse, and screen regular doses of safe disinfectant cleaning. Click here for more spring cleaning tips.
8) Enjoy the outdoors.
Spring has sprung across much of North America, with sunny skies, warm temperatures, blooming flowers, and all the other joys that come with it. If you can responsibly and respectfully get outside near your house, make daily walks or bike rides part of your routine. If not, you can take a virtual tour of some of the United States’ most awe-inspiring National Parks, explore a 3D replica of Mars thanks to NASA’s Curiosity rover, or enjoy live streams of zoos, aquariums, and other nature facilities across North America.
9) Stream something relaxing.
Beyond the options above, there are other calming ways you can use your device. Consider streaming nature sounds, like ocean waves or rainfall, in the background while you work. Spend some time with that meditation or yoga app you’ve been meaning to try. If you use fitness to unwind, look up home workouts or bodyweight exercises to occupy your mind. Listen to music, loop a scenic slideshow, get lost in an audiobook—whatever works for you, spend a little time each day doing it.
10) Protect your data.
Coronavirus-related scams are proliferating, with hackers looking to capitalize on our fear and anxiety to make a quick buck or steal valuable information. Use caution with unfamiliar emails, unusual phone calls, and too-good-to-be-true headlines, as all it takes is one click or one slip to compromise your data or the information your company relies on. Make sure data backups execute regularly and are stored remotely, as well—if disaster does strike, a reliable data backup is worth its in gold.
At CMIT Solutions, we’re dedicated to helping North American businesses and their employees survive and thrive, even in this challenging environment. If you need help with remote work protocols, device management, or network security, we’re here to help. Together we’ll make it through these tough times by focusing on all the good that brings us together.