Have you ever really sat down and calculated how much time you spend on your smart phone, tablet or computer? Just as you need work-life balance to prevent stress, you should also consider your screen-life balance.
Why do you need screen-life balance?
Researchers have found that with the increase in smart phone usage, people are feeling more unhappy and have lower self-esteem. Loneliness, depression and anxiety have also significantly increased, especially amongst younger generations.
The next time you are hanging out with family or friends, look around the room. How many are looking down at their phones? I know I have experienced this. No one is talking because they are all texting or on social media.
For those of you that feel like you spend more time on your phone or other electronics than doing things you love, you’re not the only one. Almost one-third of adults in the US said they are constantly online, according to a study from the Pew Research Center, and only 10 percent say they don’t use the internet at all.
Take a step back and decide what is most important to you. Is it spending time on your devices? Or is spending too much time on your phone taking away from your family, your hobbies, everything that really makes you happy?
Think about what you can gain by taking a digital hiatus.
Here are a few steps to consider:
1. Try spending one day "detached" from your phone
You don’t have to quit cold turkey. If a day feels like an eternity, then try an hour or two and gradually increase your screen-free time. Until you try, you won’t ever know what you have been missing.
2. Turn off notifications for emails and texts
That way, you are not inclined to pick up your phone every time it chimes or vibrates. There are also apps and features available to help with those distractions, such as. Boomerrang, Freedom and RescueTime.
3. Set up automatic text and email responses
Letting messengers know you will reply to their text or email within a specified amount of time set by you, such as 4 hours, 24 hours etc.
4. Instead of texting, call the person – to maintain a level of human interaction
If it is a colleague you want to speak with, walk over to their desk and have a face-to-face conversation with that person. How many times have you received a text and thought, “Well that seemed rude” or “He/she seems angry, but I can’t really tell.” Sending or receiving a text message can provide the wrong message, as tone and emotions can easily be misconstrued without hearing someone speak and experiencing facial or micro expressions.
5. Create device-free spaces
Make rules like, "No phones in the kitchen," which is one place where people tend to spend time with family. Keep your phone out of the bedroom so you don’t have the urge to pick up the phone if you are having trouble sleeping. The “blue light” or exposure to any light can affect sleep by suppressing the secretion of melatonin.
6. Try using a watch instead
People often check their phones to see what time it is, but refraining from doing this may keep you from checking email and your social media accounts, too, once you have already picked it up.
If you are looking for some guidance to improve your screen-life balance—or looking to help your family improve theirs—check out these resources:
- How to Break Up with Your Phone; by Catherine Price
- https://screenlifebalance.com/; Catherine Price