One of my goals for 2017 was to reduce the amount of time I spent on social media and to instead, just live in the moment. Instead of being burdened by taking a perfect picture, crafting a clever caption, and keeping track of the number of likes, I decided to look UP (something I learned from this blog), and enjoy life around me instead of others’ lives living on my phone. Loosening the ties of social media has been incredibly freeing, eye-opening, and rewarding. I’ve also slowly started to reduce other forms of screen time in addition to social media, including tv, computer, and iPad.
As a part II to this blog about controlling social media time, I have found a few other tips and tricks to help me reduce my overall screen time:
- Remove all notifications for social media apps. I turned off all forms of notifications for the social media apps, especially the ones that appear when you have a locked screen. No longer am I being interrupted or tempted by an enticing notification to remind me to check a comment, picture, or like. This has been very helpful (and saves battery)!
- “Hide” all my social media apps on my phone. I used to have my go-to social apps on my home screen, so anytime I would open my phone I could easy open one of the apps. Now, I have moved all my social media apps into one folder on my phone, and I put that folder way back on the last page. That way, I have to be very intentional about going on social media and I am not reminded right when I open my phone. This one surprised me with how helpful it has been.
- Set limits. I set various limits and rules to my phone use, specifically social media use. A few include “no phone before bed” (has helped go to sleep earlier!), “no phone before breakfast” (has helped get out of bed), “no phone at the table” (this one has been set in place for awhile, but important to emphasize), and “no phone before exercise”. Even when I do go on social media, I only allow myself a few minutes. These rules have helped limit distractions and they have helped find motivation for exercise.
- Play music. The number one factor that has helped my family reduce screen time! Although using my phone less for social media, I am using it much more to play music. We set up a bluetooth speaker to easily connect to the phone and this has helped our whole family reduce the amount of time the TV is on. Now that there is music always playing, we never turn the TV on for background noise. I turn music on right when I wake up and right when I get home from work and change the Pandora stations based on how I am feeling. I used to cook dinner with the news on in the background, now I cook (and dance) with upbeat and energizing songs. We used to occasionally eat with the TV on in the background (the ultimate no-no!), and now we just switch up the music. This simple change has allowed us all to be more mindful and reduce screen time!
- Create alternate activities. My husband and I were noticing we got into a bad habit of watching too much tv on weeknights. So we set limits (mentioned above) and created specific activities to do before and/or instead of watching tv for different nights of the week. For example, Tuesday is “Reading Night” so the tv stays off, the music stays on, and we each choose a book or something to read (or a podcast since my husband isn’t the biggest fan of reading – but this night was actually his idea!). Thursdays we have “Game Night”, we have to play at least one game before turning on the TV. Our other nights we have a rule of taking a walk and waiting until 9pm to turn on the TV, and really, turning the TV on has only come down to Wednesday nights (Modern Family and Blackish can’t be missed).
These various tips and tricks have been extremely helpful for myself and my family to reduce screen time. Although some of them are specific and might not apply to everyone, hopefully, one or two of these can be of help. I’d like to say I never go on social media or rarely watch TV without having to write this blog, but hopefully there are others of you out there with the same struggles. Share your own tips and tricks, we can all learn from one another!
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