In 2020, just about everyone you know probably has a smartphone. You can’t go outside without seeing at least one person looking down at it as they walk, texting while they wait for their lift, or video calling in line for their coffee order. People even use their phones in places that were considered as inappropriate/unprofessional to be on your phone i.e. funerals, at work, at a date just to name a few.
Unsurprisingly, screen time has significantly increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic because people are glued to their laptops, tv’s, phones. Many of us have had limited time with friends and family this year as a way to help curb the spread of the virus. So, it’s only natural that we have turned more frequently to video games, social media and YouTube videos.
Although we are on alert level 1 – many people are still working from home on a full-time basis, people aren’t traveling or eating out as much. Many have isolated themselves from their friends and extended family members. Again, turning more frequently to screen time is a way to pass those moments of isolation. Unfortunately, this has exponentially increased screen time and may lead to anxiety, depression, lack of focus among many other things.
Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce your screen time. It just requires a bit of discipline, a willingness to change habits, and the ability to get creative. Here are tips and tricks to break away from your screen:
Stop taking technology to the bedroom
One of the biggest issues with screen time is the fact that people are committed to checking their phones and laptops before they sleep. What people don’t know is that according to a study by Harvard Health, the “blue light” which is the artificial light from our phones is detrimental to our sleep quality, and can lead to other health concerns too.
If you have the habit of checking social media before you sleep, perhaps replacing that habit with a book might be a better idea. Ideally, studies say that you should not check your phone at least two hours before you sleep.
Establish tech-free zones
Following on the bedroom tip of less technology, a good strategy is establishing areas that you can designate as “tech-free zones”. For instance, the bathroom is on the top of the list. It’s unhygienic and just distracts you from doing your business and moving on. I’d also add the dining room or anywhere else you eat. You can use this time more wisely like having quality time with your family or getting to know your friends better.
Turn the phone upside down
This is an old trick, but it works! So instead of placing your phone the normal way where the screen faces up, you can put your down so that the screen faces down, this way you’re less distracted by notifications. Subsequently, there’s less urge to look at your phone unnecessarily so.
Screen time report
If you use an iPhone, you’ll get a screen time report with the average time spent per day on your phone and how that compared to last week, whether screen time increased or decreased. You can also see this information in the settings of most Android devices. Using this tool to track screen time can significantly motivate you on decreasing screen time.
Download apps that help reduce screen time
Between our phones, laptops, and tablets, we’re constantly plugged into technology. Not only can it distract us from getting our to-do lists done, but it’s also damaging to our eyes. Say goodbye to the addicting games, text messages, and Instagram stories by downloading apps on Google play store or Apple store that help lock your phone. These apps encourage you to remain unplugged from your phone for a period of time that you choose. Apps range from Flipid, AppDetox, Social Fever, ZenScreen, etc.
Delete unnecessary apps
When you have a couple of minutes, go through your phone and remove the unnecessary ones. For instance, if you haven’t used an app in 30 days then it’s worth considering deleting it.
Pick-up a new hobby
Think about it, once you get bored, what do you first do? You instinctively grab your phone or laptop and just start browsing. To combat this, pick-up a new hobby that doesn’t require much screen time. Reading a book, any type of physical activity, or crafts are tech-free.