There may be hours throughout the day when I haven’t looked at my phone, and haven’t even picked it up from my night table the evening before. But there are certainly many (many) other moments when I find myself mindlessly scrolling, using my phone for one thing (like, checking the weather) only to find myself texting, or on Instagram, and completely forgetting to check if it is actually going to rain. Perhaps worse, my partner or my child will be talking to me, needing my undivided presence and attention, and I will be distracted by my phone. I will readily admit that my relationship with my screens, isn’t where I’d like it to be, nor is it what I want to be modeling as a parent.
I know I am not alone in this quest. Almost every client (or friend, or family member) I talk to about their phone use, will readily admit that they use their phone too much. That social media brings depression and anxiety to their lives yet they can’t find a way to stop. For many of us, our phones are the last thing we look at before bed, and the first thing we look at when we wake up. And it is making an impact on us, and our relationships.
A few thoughts for those of us who may be wanting a reset button on our screens:
Designate a few times a day when you do not have your phone out. Perhaps this is during your morning routine, as you make coffee and prepare for the day. I would highly recommend tech-free meals - which creates an opportunity to have a more mindful eating experience, but also, to connect with your colleagues during lunch time (or quietly by yourself!) and your loved ones at the end of the day.
Utilize your screen time app. Apple came out with the capacity for us to better track our phone usage. You can set app limits (I try to do only 30 minutes on social media a day!) There is a “downtime” option, which allows you to go semi-dark from your calls and apps. Overall, it’s helpful to see how much time you are on your phone. The number might be absolutely shocking, and can be a great starting place to reassess your usage. Some tips on how to do this effectively, here.
How much do you talk to your partner during the day? Many of us are in constant contact with our partners and friends throughout the day. Whether that is texting, Instagram messaging, Snap chatting etc. Try limiting your contact throughout the day, and make the moment when you get home from work an opportunity to actually hear about your partner’s day. It’s easy to tune out if you have already heard everything through text in a play by play starting at 9 am. Make the end of day reunion a meaningful opportunity to connect, tech-free.
Make a tech-free date night. The majority of the couples I work with talk about increasing intimacy, connection, and communication as their main goals. One of the go-to interventions is date night. But, if date night is spent with one or both partners on their phones, or constantly being pulled out of the IRL conversation to respond to a text or a call elsewhere, our ability to open up, become more vulnerable and intimate is hampered. Turn your phone on silent, put it away and look at each other.
A few other articles on the topic: