UCHealth: On Black Friday, give up your devices

In its second year, Checkout inspires people to disconnect from their devices on Black Friday and replace screen time for real time with family and friends
Nov. 15, 2019

UCHealth is encouraging Coloradans to go device-free this Black Friday by hosting family-friendly events and installations across the state.

In its second year, UCHealth’s Checkout initiative advocates for people to skip the frenzy of Black Friday doorbuster sales, and instead use the day to enjoy face-to-face time with loved ones. Click here to learn details about all the Checkout events.

A young couple holds hands and skates at the Parker Ice Trail in Discovery Park.
Grab your sweetheart. Hold hands and take a spin on some ice. This couple is enjoying the Parker Ice Traile. Photo courtesy of Jim Ott, Town of Parker.

“We are thrilled to announce that this year we are expanding events across the entire state of Colorado,” said Manny Rodriguez, UCHealth’s chief marketing, experience and customer officer. “Ditching our devices for a day to focus on connecting with family and friends has both physical and mental health benefits. We started hosting these events to encourage families to make the most of their time off doing fun activities with one another as we kick off the holiday season.”

Dr. Carrie Landin, psychologist with UCHealth Integrative Medicine Center-Stapleton, said there is a detachment that people have when they are on social media from the actual experience they are having, and that getting off social media helps you live more in the moment – to be more mindful.

“Life is not meant to be lived through a screen. Checkout is a great opportunity to get off of social media, off of all screen time, and to really try to be present with others, to have those face-to-face interactions, to spend time doing enjoyable things with your friends and family, or to take some time alone and enjoy your own company,” Dr. Landin said. “We know that being face-to-face with people and having positive interactions will improve your mood. It improves your self-esteem, it makes you feel cared about and connected, and it has wonderful effects on your brain.”

UCHealth is collaborating with a variety of venues across the state to reward those “Checking Out” on Black Friday by providing free movie screenings, fitness workouts, museum and park passes, and ice skating. See the full details here.

Special checkout events include:

Dr. Katherine Green, medical director of the UCHealth Sleep Medicine Clinic at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, said an hour of electronic-free time before bed is optimal to improve sleep quality overnight.

People on mats doing yoga at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Yoga enthusiasts in bright colors enjoy an outdoor class. Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon for UCHealth.

“Our society does not prioritize checking out very well,” said Dr. Green. “From a sleep standpoint, screen time is very closely linked to poor sleep quality. Things like phones, tablets, computers, even TV screens emit blue light, which directly turns off the hormone that tells our body it’s time to go to sleep. Trading the screen time for either exercise or family time or just getting outside is the best thing you can do for sleep.”

Dr. Wendy Day, internal medicine physician with UCHealth Primary Care-Chapel Hills, said that screen addiction is a real thing that can cause adverse effects to one’s health, and that cutting off social media for a day is an absolute test to see if an individual is addicted. She added that people who use a computer seated at a desk for long periods, or who spend an extended amount of time looking at their phones, can suffer from a number of ailments.

“In the primary care world we see people who have chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches,” said Dr. Day. “People who sit at a computer for a prolonged amount of time may have trouble seeing and may become increasingly overweight or have metabolic syndrome, increasing their cardiovascular risk. We see the harmful impact of too much screen time.”

Moreover, Dr. Richard Davidson, ophthalmologist at the UCHealth Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center-Anschutz Medical Campus, said that extensive screen usage involves a lot of time focusing, which can lead to eye strain and eye fatigue.

“When we’re staring at our screens, we’re using something in our eyes called accommodation, which takes a lot of energy. If we’re accommodating for hours on end, it can be very fatiguing for the eyes,” Davidson said. “When we’re using our screens, we tend not to blink as often, and those stares actually add up over time. That really results in dry eye and can feed into that fatigue.

“People need to learn that they can actually function without their phones – they can live a meaningful life and not have to stare at their phone, tablet or computer all the time,” Davidson continued. “It’s also great just to reconnect with people that you care about.”