Have you ever woken up feeling exhausted after your phone kept you up all night? Or have you noticed you’ve been scrolling for hours only to realize you forgot about the other tasks you needed to complete?
It can be hard to notice that you’re overusing your smartphone, and even if you have, it can be just as hard to make yourself stop. However, a growing abundance of research suggests that you should focus on avoiding too much screen time.
The dangers of overusing your phone
Reports have suggested that excessive screen time could be a factor in increased depression and anxiety in children. Mobile phones are also commonly linked to health problems, such as sleep disorders and increased loneliness. You may think these don’t sound too serious, but things that are easy to overlook, to begin with, can quickly have a degrading effect on your physical and mental health.
Who does this affect?
It might come as a surprise, but these dangers can apply to anyone. We often hear about the stereotype of teenagers staring at their phones and the struggle parents have to balance their screen time and real-life interaction, but the draw of technology isn’t restricted to just one age group. Remote roles have nearly tripled globally since 2020, and the current increase in remote working shows this problem is growing among adults and children alike.
How you can change your habits
The force of habit is strong, but it’s good to know that there are ways to break the compulsion to check your smartphone.
Ways to decrease your screen time
- Keep your phone out of sight for a day or a certain amount of time.
- Try getting a real alarm clock and using that instead.
- Set a phone usage time limit during your break.
- Download an app that will monitor how much time you spend on your phone. Apps like this can block you from using your phone and let you know when you’ve exceeded your time.
- Establish a phone-free zone in your home.
Taking a phone-free day can go a long way. It reminds you how frequently you mindlessly reach for a screen and helps you with the first step of recognition. It’s fun to see how freeing it can be to take a moment to appreciate the world around you instead of looking at a device or the conversations you can explore if you ask your friends or family questions instead of immediately turning to a search bar.
If it’s impossible to leave your phone for a day, set it to airplane mode or set a time restriction for yourself, and as time goes on, increase the time limit. Even if it’s just while you go for a walk or meet up with a friend, a few hours without endless notifications and reminders can really help you break the habit and leave you feeling less overwhelmed.
How screen time can be used to your advantage
Not all technology use is bad, of course. Some screen time can be counted as ‘good’ screen time. Bad screen time is anything that can be considered passive: scrolling through TikTok or Instagram posts or watching shows. Good screen time, however, is when you are active and interacting with content. Learning, socializing through video calls, and being creative are all great ways of using technology to your advantage.
So, what should you do?
You don’t have to cut out screen time altogether, but it can’t hurt to be aware of what’s healthy and how easily you can minimize what’s not. It’s amazing how much better you might feel when you take back control of how you use your own time.
10 things to do instead of picking up your phone
- Have a conversation.
- Try out a new hobby.
- Take a walk outside and experience nature.
- Organize and declutter a space.
- Listen to music.
- Read a book or magazine.
- Cook a new meal.
- Draw or write.
- Take a drive and visit a new place in your area.
- Take a bath.