The beginning of the new year presents a new opportunity to reduce our use of smart devices, and to lessen taking them with us wherever we go, even to the bathroom.
In a report published by the American newspaper “Wall Street Journal” (WSJ), writer Julie Jargon touched on a number of ways that would enable you to adopt healthy habits when it comes to using technology. For example, each family member can rate how long they have used technology and share the results with the rest. Screen time settings on Apple and Android devices also help calculate screen time for each week.
Let the kids set the time
According to parenting expert Susan Groner, setting rules about the use of technology is most successful when the whole family is involved in decision-making. She believes that it is best to have children monitor the time they spend on screen for themselves.
Ask your children how long and what type of screen time they want, and how they plan to monitor it. Then let them run it themselves for a week. Next, try to figure out what worked and what didn’t with their plan, did they get their homework done, do some other activities, get enough sleep, did they manage to keep track of the time or did they have to set an alarm?
It may take a few weeks for this strategy to work, but Gruner stresses that this approach teaches important lessons in time management. Children are more likely to follow the rules they helped set.
They agreed to use smart devices?
Having consistent rules about when and where to use smart devices can help avoid problems. For example, if the family agrees that there are no phones at the dinner table or in the bedrooms at night, there is no question about that.
For her part, Susan Ariko, a digital wellbeing educator, decided to stop bringing her phone with her to the bathroom, stressing that with this step she wants to challenge the feeling of having to keep phones with us all the time.
Compete to reduce screen time
“If your family is competitive, take advantage of that to cut back on screen time,” says Chris Flack, co-founder of digital health consultancy Annblag. “For example, parents could challenge themselves to give up two hours a week of Instagram browsing, while kids cut back on their screen time. Tik Tok the same amount, whoever succeeds in achieving this goal gets pizza, while the losers get sandwiches.
Make time for non-technical activities
It’s not enough to express that you want to spend more time outdoors or read books, and you need to make time for it and make it part of your daily routine. Make time for family outings on holidays or reading together.
In order to achieve some decisions, such as dedicating more time to reading, the stimulus method can be followed. For example, the writer says that one of her friends plans to have her children count the number of hours they spend doing housework and reading, and then allocate the same amount of time to play with smart devices.
Small daily changes
If going an entire day without the latest smart devices seems too difficult for you, take a gradual policy of reducing screen time.
Reducing your technology use by two hours a day for an entire year could reclaim an entire month of your life. Consider cutting out the hour you spend checking the news in the morning and the hour you spend browsing Instagram in bed at night (this is made easier by making sure you don’t have your phone in your bedroom).
Perhaps you want to improve the quality of your children’s screen time, not reduce it. If your kids watch countless videos on Tik Tok or YouTube, make them watch educational entertainment content.
“If programming was less attractive, they would read a book,” says Nicole Rawson, founder of the Screen Time Clinic (a network of digital health coaches).
while watching a movie
Watching movies can help reunite the family, but glancing at the phone during a movie show will be counterproductive. Flack explains that “having devices in sight during personal interactions reduces their quality” whether the phone is turned on or off. For this reason, Flack suggests keeping the devices in another room while watching your favorite movie.
Avoid social media
The Digital Wellbeing Advisor suggests that starting your day, without checking Twitter and Instagram, will help you have more self-control in using social media platforms.
Looking for an alternative
You don’t have to be connected to social networks all the time to keep in touch with friends and family. Switching to alternative photo-sharing apps or smaller social networks can help you stay out of the hustle and bustle of politics on the big platforms.
To set the screen time
Turn on the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone during times when you want to focus on other activities or sleep. On phones running iOS 15, this feature is now part of a new setting called Focus that lets you do more than just silence notifications for all apps.
This feature also allows you to choose which people or apps you want to receive notifications during times when all other apps are silent. You can also use your phone’s settings to limit the time you spend on the apps you’re most addicted to.
Instead of texting
Don’t send a text automatically when you want to communicate with someone, especially a family member. Messages exchanged take up more screen time, lack feelings of connection, and are often ignored by teens. Therefore, phone calls may become a good and short alternative to communicating with children if they are outside the home, while paper text messages become an ideal alternative to remind children of their tasks inside the home. Direct communication between family members is the best way to restore family relationships lost due to the isolation of phones.