6 Unconventional Tips for Decreasing Screen Time
There’s no denying that screens, whether mobile phone or TV/computer screens, are already a huge part of peoples’ lives. You use it from the moment you wake until you tuck yourselves in for the night. You use it to connect, to enjoy, to be productive and to be always on the go.
However, amidst these wonderful things that your screens provide for you, there’s a downside. Constant use of social media was actually proven to have a connection to a person's decreased well being. Whether you know it or not, you go into a social comparison. Because you only see other peoples’ lives as told by their social media timeline, you tend to believe that their life is so much better, and way cooler than yours.
But this shouldn’t be the case. No matter how much you think you depend on our phone for everything, today is always a good time to start “unplugging” and decreasing your screen time, and for good reason. There’s growing evidence that decreased screen time leads to improved physical health, enhanced mood and better relationships. So how can you decrease your screen time? Here are some unconventional tips for you to try:
1. Know your “why”
There’s a very good reason why you’re here reading this along with multiple tabs in your browser that tell you how harmful uncontrolled screen time is. Whether you have trouble sleeping, you’re developing anxiety, you’re fatigued or you over all do not feel well, that’s your “why” and that’s important. Know it and take it to heart because it will help you stay on track.
Everytime you feel the urge to grab your phone and mindlessly browse your social media accounts, your “why” will be a powerful reminder to keep your focus amidst distractions.
2. Use your phone against it
Use the settings on your phone to set a time limit on how much you use it and the specific apps that are in it. If you’ve used all the time you’re allowed for the day, put it down. Start with a number that seems doable for you, then very slowly decrease it as you develop the habit of spending time away from your phone. Don’t you always say you’re going to just “quickly check” Facebook and before you know it you’ve fallen very deep down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos.
Turn off all notifications! Hearing that “ding” is enough to send you spiraling down and checking everything else. If you must, only switch on notifications from very important people. While you’re at it, it would be good to tell people that you might only be able to respond until a certain time of the day because you have a life outside of your social media accounts.
3. Share the struggle (and the wins)
Difficult things become easier when you do it with someone, right? Like working out or dieting, it’s always easier when there’s someone who’s on the same journey with you. They make you accountable for your actions and nudge you along when you feel stuck with nowhere to go. A partner, a friend or a family member who shares your “why” and knows your struggle would be a good partner to share your wins as well.
4. Options, options, options!
Most often than not, you grab your phone and tinker with it because you feel like you don’t have anything else to do. How many times have you watched an episode of a series you’re into while waiting in line or while riding public transport? The thing is, that’s not true!
This generation is big on options and that goes true for almost everything, including killing time. Try reading a book while waiting in line, or listening to a podcast to give your eyes a break. Stuck at home like most of us are in this pandemic? Try out a new hobby, work out, grow a garden, play a sport, bake cookies, organize your closet, clean out your garage, and when the pandemic is over, spend time with friends and talk to them!
The possibilities are endless, you just have to acknowledge them.
5. Don’t “capture” the moment, live in it
How many times have you watched a concert and got annoyed at those screens waving in front of your face? While it’s totally understandable to want to have a memory of an event that you can look back to, won’t it be better if that memory is embedded in your mind complete with all the small details that you may have missed because you’re too busy adjusting exposure?
It’s not to say you shouldn’t take photos or videos because that’s totally fine! It only becomes a problem when you become too focused on your screen and the 1000 photos you took from different angles, instead of what’s right in front of you. Never be too preoccupied preserving the moment that you become too busy to live it.
6. Going old school won’t hurt
Mobile phones are popular because they don’t just allow you to call and message someone, they also allow you to do a whole lot of other things! However, this multi functionality is what gets you hooked. You use your phones for almost everything you need that you can’t get it off your hands anymore.
How about you stop using your phone to do things that you have “real” things for? Using a real clock for an alarm clock will stop you from checking your phone the moment you wake up. Using your once discarded kitchen timer when you’re cooking will discourage you from browsing mindlessly on the kitchen counter while you wait for your food to cook. Try reading an actual book instead of using an ebook reader so your eyes can get a little rest. This way, you can break the habit of being too dependent on your phone to the point of almost feeling naked without it.
Doing these unconventional tips may help you decrease your screen time to a healthy amount. Technology is designed with the goal of improving the way you live your life and not reduce its quality, so it’s good to use it and keep it that way. The key is finding the balance between having onscreen and off screen activities.
Try it for yourself, and see what happens.