Smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions, and gaming consoles aren't just nice-to-have luxuries. They're mainstays in most homes. In fact, most Americans jump from screen to screen throughout the day. If they're not checking social platforms for personal use, they're analyzing spreadsheets for work.
Truly, the increase in technology has been a boon. It's upped productivity levels and made Zooming effortless. However, too much time online or interacting with tech can lead to addictive behaviors, especially during a worldwide pandemic. Everyone leans on screens for information and connection, and that's not always healthy.
Are you concerned that you or someone in your household may be too dependent on tech devices? Stopping tech addiction takes time and effort, but it can have big payoffs. Being able to put your technological items aside without missing them frees your body and mind. It also allows you to recover lost hours you would have spent Internet surfing or binge watching shows.
Put the following measures into place to reduce tech's hold on you and your family members.
1. Give kids a phone with limited Internet access.
It's tough to get addicted to technology if you can't fully immerse yourself in the Internet. Why purchase a smartphone for your children with all the bells and whistles when they just need to text or take pictures? Invest in a kids phone that doesn't include a virtual door to the web or app store. Or, promote one aspect of smartphone use-taking images-by purchasing an unconnected first camera that can grow with them.
This doesn't mean that your kids should be completely removed from the Internet. They may actually need to have access for remote learning. However, their schoolwork could be done on a laptop in the family room just as easily as a phone. With a laptop, you'll be able to better monitor when they're on and off the web.
2. Make getting outside a daily must-do.
One of few upsides to Covid shelter-in-place regulations was that more people began taking advantage of outdoor green spaces. Walking, biking, or jogging in fresh air isn't just good for the body and brain. It can help lessen your dependence on technology too.
When you prioritize outdoor exercise without any technology involved like earbuds or headphones, you restore your inner balance. You may even reconnect with neighbors in a socially distanced, safe way. An easy way to incorporate more non-tech physical activity into your daily regimen is to schedule walks or yardwark. Put them on your calendar and be sure to take your phone but only use it for emergencies.
3. Start reading offline.
Even if you have a Kindle, pick up an old-fashioned paperback or hardback novel now and then. Reading for pure pleasure before bedtime helps you decompress and reduces eye strain from smartphone and computer screens.
Worried about money because of job losses or financial downturns related to the coronavirus? You don't need to spend a dime to get reading material. Just head to your nearest public library. The library can be your gateway to worlds beyond your imagination-and no technology's required to get there.
4. Put yourself on a strict screen schedule.
If you find that it's difficult to tear yourself away from your laptop, even in a roomful of family members, take action. The road to full-blown tech addiction can be a slippery slope, and you don't want to get yourself too deep.
One method of increasing your self-discipline is by setting stringent time limits on when you can be online or on devices. For instance, you may need to be online all day, especially if your office has moved to remote work. When you finish your job, turn off all your devices. Don't return to them for at least a couple of hours. At first, you may feel like you have nothing to do. Resist the temptation to return to your phone or television. Instead, get creative. Could you clean the bathrooms? Run the vacuum? Walk the dog? Any non-tech activity will remove you from the grips of technology.
5. Reduce your reliance on social media.
Most teens and adults are on one social media platform, if not several. You likely use your social media accounts to stay in touch with friends, keep up with news, and enjoy a bit of entertainment. Nevertheless, social media can become a rabbit hole that lures you farther and farther away from reality.
Social media tends to heighten users' desire for immediate engagement and real-time social validation. This can lead to checking social pages frequently to detect changes in everything from comments and followers to likes and tags. How can you stop this detrimental and time-consuming cycle? Try going on a social media fast for several days or a week. Afterwards, incorporate regular social "fasts" into your regimen.
With everything going on during Covid, it's easy to get caught up in wanting to be online-all the time. Yet information and screen overload only leads to imbalanced perspectives and lost real-world opportunities. Keep technology around, but treat it as a vital tool rather than something you can't live without.