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  • Writer's pictureRusty McKie

10 tips to decrease smartphone addiction

Rachel and I watched the Social Dilemma at the end of November, and I can't stop thinking about it.

I've set intentional boundaries in the past with my phone, but the Social Dilemma opened my eyes to specific ways that I'm still an addict.

My first temptation is to become a Luddite — you know, an old, technology-hating curmudgeon who chooses to stay stuck in the past.

However, after some consideration, I think there's a balance.

Here's the critical question for me: Is my phone a tool or a drug?

To keep smart devices as tools, here are 10 tips to decrease smartphone addiction.

For phones in general:

1. Turn off notifications

Early in pastoring, my inbox almost drove me mad.

I learned an important lesson — get busy killing notifications, or notifications will kill you.

If a notification demands and steals your attention, you have to ask if it's right for you.

Social media, texting, and other random apps don't need my immediate reaction. And anything that sends you emails to get you on their service needs to go.

The only notification on my smartphone is phone calls. I've never regretted checking texts, emails, or social media when I choose.

2.The dinner table is a no-phone zone

There are not many reasons to get on your phone at the table.

Silence it or turn it off. And most importantly, put it in the other room.

If Rachel and I feel we must check our phone during a meal, we ask the other if it's okay.

Meals are powerful relational building time; I don't want technology interfering with that goodness.

3. Turn your phone off

Many have said, and I'll repeat it.

I turn my phone off one hour a day, one day a week on Sabbath, and one week a year on vacation.

Some days, I feel a stronger pull than others to check my phone. On those days, I find it's helpful to turn it off for a while to balance out.

4. Set personal usage goals

Once we asked our pediatrician how much screen time was too much for our kids, and I'll never forget what he said.

"More than two hours per day is too much for any kid or adult, for that matter." - Doctor Good (Yup, that's his name)

I've set a no-more-than-two-hours-of-screen-time-on-my-phone-per-day goal (whew, reading that was exhausting). Thanks to Apple's Screen Time, I can track it.

This tip takes the most discipline, but I've found it's a worthy goal because I am more grumpy, fatigued, distracted, and sad by the end of a day where I've spent too much time on my phone.

5. Turn on greyscale

Our phones shine and keep our attention. Turn your greyscale on, and it feels different.

I've found I don't want to be on my phone as much when the color is gone.

This article tells you how to turn on greyscale and create a toggle between greyscale and color for iPhones with a home button.

For social media specifically:

6. fast from social media for Lent or Advent

Social media is addictive. Everybody knows it.

Many of us are so addicted that we need a decisive intervention.

Consider taking an extended break. Lent or Advent provides a set amount of time to pay attention to other things that matter most.

At the end of your fast, you can reengage with social media with intentional boundaries.

7. Set time limits for usage

If you find yourself regretting how much time you spend scrolling, then set a time limit.

Find Screen Time in your settings and create an App Limit.

This limitation gives you the freedom to decide how you want to spend your time before you get sucked into the vortex of chatter.

8. Delete social media off your phone

Another limiting option is only to check social media on your computer.

Going to your computer slows you down enough to think more carefully about your social media usage.

9. Don't check social media first thing in the morning

You have stuff to do in the morning, and mornings are the most productive time for thinking for most people.

Let's not squander away our best hours with a flood of random, disjointed thoughts from a timeline.

Instead, start your day with Scripture, prayer, some focused work, and then see what's up on the interwebs.

10. Don't check social media in bed

I can't tell you how many times social media has disturbed my half-falling-asleep-calm and jazzed me up into a frenzy of thought.

Social media wants to tap into our emotions; I've learned I sleep better if I leave it off a couple of hours before bed.

A Tool, not a drug

Life is too short to let the faint glow of a screen consume us like a Dementor (that's a Harry Potter reference for my sweet friends who don't know).

Let's know ourselves and take steps not to be ruled by anything other than Jesus Christ so that we can be present in our lives and to those we love.


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