It is not difficult to see that technology has surpassed merely being “part of our daily lives.” It has become ingrained in our social, political, recreational, educational, and occupational existence. Due to its ease of use and efficiency, technology has allowed us to be more productive in many aspects of our lives and enables us to access information in a variety of ways. However, it is very easy to get lost for hours amongst the seemingly endless posts, tweets, snaps, blogs, videos, games, etc. Many of my clients have shared how technology is interfering with their lives (and those of their family members), often leading to deficient energy and time being devoted to basic needs including sleep, healthy eating, exercise, creative use of time, recreation, and social interaction.
While there are numerous ways we can lessen our screen-time altogether, there are other strategies we can implement in order to use technology more intentionally and with increased awareness. Being more mindful about our use of technology can improve our productivity and happiness as well as help to fight the impulses and habits of getting lost in our screens. Below are 7 strategies that can be used to help us and our family members engage in more satisfying use of our time:
- Use your “silent” or “do not disturb” modes on devices when you are trying to focus on other activities such as homework, recreation, or interactions with others. Or use this feature if you just need some time to yourself; it is okay to be inaccessible at times!
- Disable notifications you absolutely do not need. When we are constantly reminded to look at our devices, it becomes easier to get “sucked in.”
- Schedule time with yourself specifically to engage in the more mindless activity on your devices. This can help decrease anxiety about checking things such as social media throughout the rest of your day.
- Make a list of topics you specifically want to devote more time attending to on your device and keep it handy to help dissuade you from the less purposeful activity. Some examples might include reaching out to friends or family you have not spoken to recently, completing work or educational assignments, or learning about something new.
- Take advantage of apps such as “StayFree” or “Screen Time” that allow you to track the amount of time on your phone and set limits on use.
- Try to refrain from using devices at bed time. Technology works to stimulate our brains, and therefore, makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Instead, try reading, listening to calming music, or implementing relaxation or mindfulness activities (there are various apps you can use to help with this, if you insist on using your phone at bed time!)
- Model these behaviors for your family members. Children are influenced more by our actions than our words so if you are attempting to use technology more intentionally, they will too!