Is more screen time OK?

You and I are making history, says the latest Adult Lutherans Organized for Action (ALOA) newsletter. Each time we send a text or open an email, we are setting new standards for the use of technology. In just the past 10 years, the time older Americans (age 60 and over) spend on screens each day has risen by almost half an hour. That seems even more remarkable when we consider that screen time among younger people has remained steady. Actually, according to the data released in June from the Pew Research Center Fact Tank (, those of us in our 60s, 70s and 80s spend more than half of our leisure time in front of screens. While we might not be suffering from screen addiction, finding a healthy balance with technology is important to our aging brain.

  • GPS-guided driving reduces the number of wrong turns, but brain activity spikes when we plan a route to a new location.

  • Using speed dial is quick, but face-to-face communication slows cognitive decline by increasing neural connections.

  • Watching television is relaxing, but so is knitting, gardening and playing the piano, which can trigger additional brain activity.

Although we are surrounded by technology, choosing screens is not always the smartest choice. It’s tempting to slip into tech-driven or digitally dependent patterns. After all, we’ve worked hard to afford devices that simplify and enhance daily living. Plus, being tech savvy feels empowering, especially as the aging process contributes to declines in other competences.

We don’t need to be experts on the latest advances, but maintaining a healthy balance with technology is smart thinking. That’s real brain power.