The biggest addiction that people are dealing with today is smartphone addiction. Before the invention of the smartphone, phones were boring. You could only play Snake or text your friends meaningless things for so long.
However, now phones are like dopamine bombs mixed with crack cocaine mixed with ads and catchy videos. It’s totally understandable why we’re glued to these devices, however I still think we need to figure out how to reduce our reliance on our phones.
In fact, I recent wrote 16 Things I Would Tell My 16 Year Old Self – and I would double down on the tip about getting off your phone and paying attention to the people and environment around you.
Strategies to Use Your Phone Less
If you’re like me (and probably 90 percent of people), you’ve considered trying to use your phone less. I remember the first time I looked at my screen time on my iPhone, I was concerned. I was even more concerned when I checked it recently to see that my phone use has steadily increased.
My iOS Screen Time Report
I look at my screen time every so often, just to make sure I’m not going overboard (but what is too much?) on my screen time. I guess it’s somewhat refreshing that Instagram only occupied the top spot on one of these weeks.
Turn Off Notifications
I hate notifications. I actually get anxious feelings whenever I hear my phone ring. So guess what…my phone is always on silent, and I only get notifications for calls or text messages.
To me, if you have more notifications on, you’ll never have a chance to put your phone down. I’ve spent some time with people who have notifications for EVERYTHING and it’s exhausting for me (and it’s not even my phone).
If you get news alerts, Facebook alerts, Instagram alerts, Twitter updates, email alerts, Ring alerts, and hundreds of others it becomes impossible to think.
I recommend just auditing the alerts you have turned on and try to keep it as minimal as possible. Every time you get an alert, you’re urged to pick up your phone which drastically increases your screen time.
Social media apps literally earn more money by increasing the time you spend on their apps. So, how do they do that? More notifications. This means less productivity, more mindless scrolling, and more useless screen time for you.
Put Your Phone in Another Room
This can be difficult, but one of the best ways I’ve found to stay focused on work, or whatever I’m doing off of my phone is to physically separate myself from it. I’ll put my phone in another room, so I can’t easily reach down and distract myself from the more important task.
This isn’t foolproof, as I can obviously still get up and go to the other room and get sucked back into my phone. However, this can work well if you need to get focused and knock out a task. I just recommend putting your phone on silent so you can’t hear it if you get a call or text while it’s in the other room.
Set a Screen Time Limit
I have an iPhone, so I’m most familiar with how to set screen time limits on iOS devices, but Android also offers this feature. You can set screen time limits so that you can’t use your phone or certain apps for longer than a set period of time.
This can deter you from mindlessly scrolling Instagram or TikTok for hours and hours. If you know there is a limit to how much you can use an app, maybe (just maybe) you’ll be more mindful of how you use your phone throughout the day.
One excuse I often make as to why I use my phone so much is that I’m using it to be productive, like using it for work-related tasks. However, the screen time report doesn’t lie and usually reveals that I’m just scrolling through social media.
Here’s a hack for how you can make this time limit work better. You’ll need a friend or your partner to set the code to unlock the app or more screen time. With iPhones all you have to do to unlock the limited app is type in a passcode. So if you know the passcode, you can easily bypass the time limit.
Have someone else set the code so if you want to get in, you have to ask them to unlock it for you. They’ll promptly call you a “phone addict” and shame you into not using your phone. 😂
Take a Day Off From Technology
One way to reduce your average screen time for the week is to take a day off entirely from using technology. (I promise, it will be okay. You can do it!) I like to do this on Sundays, as I don’t have to work so I can disconnect and do other things.
So on this one technology-free day, I don’t use my phone, I don’t check my email, and I don’t watch TV. Not only can this reduce your weekly screen time, but it can also help give you an idea of how much you actually use your phone.
The first time you try this it can feel like you’re missing a part of your life. And that’s because you are. The hours you spend scrolling and scrolling are suddenly freed up for reading books, going outside, talking to your neighbor, or driving peacefully.
How Much Screen Time Per Day is Okay?
If you work in a job where you sit at a computer most of the day, you’re probably already staring at screens too much. And I get it, I have a job like that too. But the time we spend on devices outside of work really adds up and takes time away from more important things. Reid Health shared in this post that the average screen time for adults in the US ballooned from 11 hours to 19 hours per day during the pandemic.
19 hours? Holy shit. When do people sleep?
So there isn’t a hard number of hours of screen time that is healthy or unhealthy for adults. However, studies find that reducing screen time can improve mental health and wellbeing, and even reduce risk of depression. One study found that limiting social media actually helped decrease loneliness and depression.
So even if you feel like you LOVE spending time on social media, you may actually be harming your mental health with all that time spent scrolling.
So my recommendation? Just give a couple of these strategies a shot for getting off your phone and re-entering the physical world of fun people and places around you.