Set Down the Screen: Here's How
Written January 19, 2020. Updated by Lauren Curl-Ferrell on June 23, 2021
It is Time To Put Down the Phone
We get it. We really do. In a day and age where everything can be found at our fingertips, it is hard to not hold the device that can do the finding constantly.
Many people use terms like "addicting," and "habitual," when they discuss why their phones are in their hands constantly.
Technology is a wonderful thing, however it can also hinder things like one's ability to retain information, their spine, it can cause neck issues, arthritis, brain stimulation and patterns, and it can even effect sleep and mood.
The Science Speaks For Itself
A recent study showed the average smartphone user spends over 3.5 hours on their device per day. The average number of touches? That hovers around 75-100 in most.
And those are just the average -- a blend between brand new users and those who rarely use their phones. For peak users, the totals may be shockingly higher.
That same study also stated that people who have a social media and phone addiction have changes in size and shape in the grey matter regions of the brain. Grey matter controls a person’s emotions, speech, sight, hearing, memory and self-control. Other studies have reported similar brain alterations due to drug usage.
What's that say about our attention span? What's it say about our dependence, memory, and recall? Are we checking phones for affirmation? Are we checking phones out of habit? Are we checking phones out of boredom?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Probably.
Moving Forward and Taking Back Control
Let's not forget that phones are only one contributing factor to screentime. There are TVs, computers, tablets, and videogames. Which begs the vital question: How do we take back control in a digitally-dominant age?
Are there daily practices or resources for cutting out screen time for more, well, anything time?
Glad you asked!
Take a humble look at your screen time numbers.
Your device logs them for you. The hard part is done, but the critical part remains. You need to gauge where your time is going and why? Does it compliment who you want to be?
Turn off notifications on non-critical apps and platforms.
There's no sense jumping at meaningless pings and phone vibrations every 12 seconds.
Use the Do Not Disturb feature on your devices.
Emergency contacts can still reach you if there's a crisis. Let non-issues stay non-issues while you go about your day. Stiff arm the solicitors.
Keep the most productive apps on the homepage of your device.
Bury the rest a few swipes in. Chances are that what you see the most is what you'll use the most.
Ready for a big idea? Put your phone out of sight and out of mind.
Really. Turn it off and store it somewhere intentionally inconvenient. Perhaps the garage or the master closet. If the phone isn't in your pocket all the time, it'll be harder for it to master your every day.
Download a grayscale mode.
Aesthetics play a major subliminal part in the user experience of any given electronic. Mainstream, default schemes are designed to magnetize more usage out of device owners whereas some screen time masters have gone out of their way to create bare bone equivalents that encourage less attraction. In other words, an uglier color scheme with more muted colors can actually combat wasted time on your phone. If it's not super pretty, it won't be super fun to spend hours scrolling.
Create device-free zones in your home and get everyone in on it.
Could be the kitchen table, the backyard, the living room. Your call!
Swing for the fences and do a Digital Detox.
Start with Saturdays and try an entire day away from your device. As you get stronger, go two days in a row. Can you cut out a phone and a computer? Can you turn off Wi-Fi altogether? You're so bold!
Replace your phone alarm with a clock.
How often do we roll over in bed to turn off the alarm, only to realize we just lost 35 minutes to pointless web browsing? Set a regular alarm and keep your phone in another room.
Hey, We Love Tech Too
At risk of sounding like we're against technology, let's set it straight: we're not. Technology improves so many incredible facets of life.
The fine line comes in how individuals use technology throughout daily life. And when we look at phones as a society, one thing's really clear: we've forgotten how to look around and see the magic.
Everyone's got their noses buried and fingers moving a million miles an hour. Let's pick our chins up, see the possibility and engage with community all around.