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Day 12

Stop Staring At The Screen – Limit Screen Time

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American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media

Nielsen

Day 4 of The Digital Wellbeing Advent Calendar spoke about the importance of measuring your screen time. We suggested setting up screen time trackers – apps on your smartphones and laptops that recorded how much time you were on your devices and what you were doing on them.

With those insights, evaluate IF you would like to change how you spend your digital time. If so, HOW would you like to change it?

Follow these strategies to reduce your misdirected screen time.

Strategies

Set a screen time budget

Here’s a hypothetical question. How would you feel if you were going to stare at a screen for 15 hours every day for the rest of your life? What about 10 hours? Or 6 hours? 4 hours? Still too much?

How much daily screen time seems too much to you? Take a moment to think about that.

With this figure in mind, decide on a daily budget for screen time. When the time is up each day, switch your devices off. Use a screen time tracker to keep yourself honest.

Install a screen time tracker

An important step to reducing your screen time is to first understand how much time you’re actually spending on devices. As people are generally very bad at estimating the amount of time they spend on their smartphones, we recommend to install a screen time tracker app on your devices. Follow our strategies from Day 4 if you’re not already using a screen time tracker.

Set alerts with your screen time tracker

With advanced screen time trackers, like RescueTime, set alerts when you reach predetermined thresholds. Perhaps you want to know when it’s time to get off when you spend 15 minutes on Facebook a day? Or when you’ve watched an hour of Netflix?

Or send yourself a “virtual high five” when you’re spending time on a personal goal oriented activity. 30 minutes spent language learning? – Congrats, have a cookie!

Need something stronger? Schedule time for distractions

Allow yourself time for distractions, to let the mind wander and enjoy the frivalities of the Internet. We all need to relax.

Set time in the day to access distraction heavy websites like social media or video streaming, perhaps once you’ve finished your productive day after 7pm, or during your commute. Apps like Freedom (available on Mac, Windows, Android and iOS) are particularly great as you can share your profile across devices.

This strategy requires you to block distracting apps and websites at all other times so ensure not to block any apps necessary to be productive.

Set a sleep timer for televisions

Televisions have long had sleep timers. when you sit down to watch television, set the sleep timer and hide the remote elsewhere in the room out of reach.

Set an alarm

Unfortunately not all devices allow us to set hard rules for our screen time. When using a screen without a timer, set an alarm reminding you to turn the screen off and then place the alarm next to the screen. When the alarm rings, you’ll have to go to the alarm to turn it off and then you’ll be close enough to turn off the screen too.

Delete apps, block websites

Do you find yourself regularly spending a lot of time on one app or website in particular? Remove it from your reach. If it’s an app, delete it. If it’s a website, block it. Up till now, The Digital Wellbeing Advent Calendar’s recommended strategies have been delicate, but the strong cold turkey approach is occasionally needed to break serious addiction.

Author

Fraser Deans

Today's article was written by Fraser Deans. Fraser is a Digital Product Designer and founder of The Wholesome Technology Company, focused on practicing and spreading ideas for living well with technology.

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