Social media has become a necessity in our life. Digital devices have become a permanent accessory in our hands. Talking about a typical day, we start with the digital clock and check emails and messages. We go to the gym and start our musical apps to get more oomph in the gym. Then, check our daily schedule on the phone and put aside the travel time by calculating the distance again through the apps.
We need our phones for everything, whether listening to music, checking emails, making calls, or whatnot. The millennial generation has grown up with the internet, phones, iPads and other technology as a part of their lives. We feel the need of being online on a near-constant basis for fear of losing out.
Numerous studies have shown the impact of the ever-changing digital landscape. These effects are concerning not just for kids but also for the parents. There is even a term “secondhand screen time.” revealing how parents screen time could endanger children.
Why you should take a break from Digital Screens
A heavy digital phone user touches the phone an average of 5427 times daily with an average of 225 daily minutes. On the other side, the average user or what we call a regular user touches the phone an average of 2617 times daily with an average of 145 daily minutes. National Institute of Health (NIH) study shows that those nine and 10-year-old kids spending more than seven hours a day using such devices show signs of premature thinning of the cortex, the brain’s outermost layer that processes sensory information.
The vast majority of Americans – 96% – now own a cellphone of some kind and about 74% a digital device of some kind. We do not realize how many things add up to screen time. The love for digital devices is turning into an addiction. It seems nearly impossible to get away and make quality time for ourselves and the ones we love.
In this article, I would like to share some tips that may help you lower your dependence on screens and thus create a space free of distractions.
How to take a break from screen time:
Be aware of the distraction:
It may sound counter-intuitive to install another app to get free of digital screens but trust me on this one. Install an app that will monitor your usage data to narrow down the time you are spending on unproductive activities. Many phones have this as an in-built feature called “screen-time” or similar; you just need to personalize and activate it.
I recently finished the book “24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week” by Tiffany Shlain, where the author has described how the Shabbat tradition can be incorporated to fit the modern culture and make it a tech Shabbat, where you refrain from using any digital device for a day of your choice. There are many tips and personal experiences the author has shared to make your life easy.
Duration and kind of the break:
Depending on individual circumstances, the break time can differ for each individual. You can also choose to start easy by taking a break from one social media account as well. Just keep in mind, not to spend that timer on another app.
Follow the schedule:
Making and flowing a schedule is important as it helps you in forming a new health habit. Just like you need a good diet for your body regularly, you also need a regular break from your screen time.
Make a strong case:
Define 1-2 major reasons that you want to take a break from screen time. It could be spending quality time with your family and friends or utilizing that time in your self-development. Whatever your goal is, keep reminding yourself whenever you feel pulled by the screen gravity.
Cleansing your phone:
Check the apps you haven’t used in the past few months and delete them. It can help you with endless scrolling on your phone.
Take advantage of this wonderful feature. Turn off silent mode during the meal and/ or sleep time. Sometimes, one notification is all it takes to spend numerous minutes on invaluable web surfing. For emergencies, you can always program your phone settings so that if you get a call from the same number twice, it overrides the silent feature.
Keep the devices away:
“The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity, thereby leaving fewer resources available for other tasks and undercutting cognitive performance.”
Create distraction offline:
To keep yourself away from electronic devices, create a hobby or an activity that does not require a digital screen. Ditch tablets and read a hardcover book, go for a walk, organize your house, one closet at a time, download songs for offline use for exercise, or meet your friends.
Taking time off-screen time sounds difficult, but it is possible if you have the will. It not only frees your time but allows you to connect with others fully and attentively. You are doing yourself a huge favour as it has both physical and mental benefits. You become more mindful of what you are doing/ not doing, and you can refocus your life. Also, it gives you more reasons to be physically active than lying on the couch and binge-watching another Netflix rom-com. Make screening your screen time a regular ritual and better connect with yourself.