It’s well established that too much screen time is harmful. People who spend too much of their day staring at screens are more likely to struggle with physical and mental health issues. Chances are, when you get to the end of the day and realize you spent most of it on your phone, staring at tv screen, or playing video games, you feel that distinct lack of energy.
Despite all of this, screens are addictive. They are an alluring distraction, and it isn’t easy to break those bonds, even though doing so can make your life better. So, what can you do to reduce your screen time without it feeling like an exercise in deprivation? Here are seven screen-time reducing strategies.
1. Know How Much Time You Spend Engaging With Screens
Perception is a killer when it comes to screen time. If you go to bed at night thinking you only spent an “hour or so” online, you may not see the problem. Fortunately, many devices allow you to track the minutes and hours you spend on them.
Figure out how to do that on your devices, and see what your numbers look like after a week. If you are shocked that your screen time is hours daily, you won’t be alone. Fortunately, this gives you a solid number to work down from.
2. Use Technology to Break From Technology
You’ve already used tech to tell you how much of a screen-time problem you have. Let’s keep that up. Use technology to break that addiction.
Start with your phone. Set alarms to remind you to take 5 to 15 minute electronics breaks every hour or so. There are apps that will block your most tempting social media pages during certain hours of the day, or even kick you offline if you exceed your daily limits. Yes, you can override these if you choose, but even a small reduction in screen time is helpful.
3. Make Screen Time Purposeful
Avoid mindless scrolling or mindless viewing. Have a purpose each time you engage with one of your devices. This will help you break the habit of turning to a screen each time you feel a twinge of boredom.
No, this doesn’t mean your screens can only be used for work or study. You can absolutely engage screens for fun and entertainment as long as it has a dedicated purpose. For example, spending 30 minutes relaxing while watching TikTok after a long day at work is fine. You know why you are getting online, what you will be doing, and for how long. What you want to avoid is getting online aimlessly and losing minutes or hours of your day.
4. Move Around Regularly
Imagine that you are awake for 16 hours a day. If you were to spend five minutes of each of those hours moving around in some way, that’s 80 minutes of exercise. Add 20 more minutes of dedicated activity, and that’s more than an hour and a half of exercise each day. It’s also time you aren’t spending indulging in screen time.
5. Engage Some Non Electronic Hobbies
Often, screens aren’t exciting or entertaining. Scrolling is simply a better alternative to boredom. You aren’t going to get rid of your screen habit without a substitute that is appealing to you.
This is good news! It means you get to find and pursue something that interests you. Have you ever wanted to learn how to crochet, master gourmet cooking, or try your hand at billiards? This is your chance.
There’s an added bonus. People with hobbies are simply more interesting, and can connect with people over shared interests. You can even parlay this into your romantic life. Just get the details about online dating and finding mutual compatibility.
6. Ditch Screens Before Bedtime
Turn off your screens an hour before you go to bed. Use that time to write in a journal, read a book, have a conversation, meditate, or anything else that centers you and connects you to others. This may be a struggle at first, but if you can make it a habit, you will be on your way to achieving your goal of reducing your screen time.
7. Limit Your Notifications
How many notifications do you get each day? Some people get dozens. Each of those is like a leash jerking you back to your smartphone. Get rid of the ones that aren’t truly important to you. For example, do you really need notifications from games or social media groups? All too often, message notifications are just a new way for advertisers to access you and monopolize your time. Stop giving them access.