Challenge 2 Ten simple rules


Rules help. Individually, simple rules can support emotional regulation and belief. Ten simple rules can be a magic number in science, and this format of paper has been an incredibly successful medium for best practices and sharing expertise. Make, use, plan, and use data were the most common themes in the first 100 papers of work in using this heuristic model published in PLOS Computational Biology. Ten simple rules for more objective decision-making is a compelling and relevant examplar that supports structured decision making for screen time use. Break into smaller parts, mitigate bias, be transparent, and beware cognitive dissonance. These are salient principles for screen time decisions. Here, rules are proposed specific to screen time use using principles for simple rules including have ten, have a vision, and support with research as needed.


rule focus description evidence
1 Set intention state purpose for every screen time instance; never ‘fill time’ with screens Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world
2 Track time just a minute never happens; track time with some precision How Sedentary Are University Students? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
3 Manage attention attention and perception are intimately linked; be mindful of how you spend attention whilst on a screen such as a video call, skip multi-tasking How to do nothing: resisting the attention economy and Minds and brains of media multitaskers
4 Block work label and block work; cognitive task switching is costly Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World and The Impact of Digital Text
5 Plan breaks every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look 20 feet away Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration
6 Weigh costs and benefits Transparently assess the potential costs and benefits of a specific task, function, or activity on a screen versus an alternative The Affect Heuristic in Judgments of Risks and Benefits and Effects of Excessive Screen Time on Neurodevelopment, Learning, Memory, Mental Health, and Neurodegeneration: a Scoping Review
7 Include collaboration Synchronous online interactions are more effective in most instances Learning and Satisfaction in Webinar, Online, and Face-to-Face Instruction: A Meta-Analysis and The Role of Collaboration, Computer Use, Learning Environments, and Supporting Strategies in CSCL: A Meta-Analysis
8 Plan space Real space matters; some spaces are conductive to deep work, others collaboration, others diffuse ideation Nomadic work and location independence: The role of space in shaping the work of digital nomads
9 Experiment Experiment with your screen time and green time with physical activity to boost performance Physical activity and screen time of children and adolescents before and during the COVID-19 lockdown in Germany: a natural experiment and Can a ‘rewards-for-exercise app’ increase physical activity
10 Set rules Set rules for screen time use that work for you, your team, and your family; include rewards and positive alternatives; stack positive micro-habits A Goal-Theoretic Framework for Parental Screen-Time Monitoring Behavior and Ten simple rules for more objective decision-making and Micro-habits for life-long learning

Learning outcomes

  1. Explore the behavioral trait reshaping capacity of life-hacking rules.
  2. Examine some of the key evidence that supports your screen adaptation theory and personal development.
  3. Change how you use screens.

Challenge time

  1. Review the ten simple rules. Experiment was one per day/week for a few days/weeks. Small changes first. Track its efficacy.
  2. Develop and test a cognitive energy budget, daily. Here is an example of a tracking exercise data dive for a scientist.
  3. List any rules you were using for screen time (implicit or explicit).

Reflection questions

  1. Document the extent that the rules improved your performance.
  2. Do you have different screen time rules for your team or family than you currently adopt or would consider adopting?
  3. Was there a place or time that screen time work was best supported for a specific work or professional task?