What is clearer than ever is society as a whole is spending less time outdoors connecting with nature and more time on screens. Whether it’s your smartphone, laptop, tablet or TV, it can be hard to break away from the endless stream of content, with these devices becoming so entwined in our everyday lives. But breaking away from technology is essential for achieving a balanced lifestyle–and it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. Here are some tips to help you and your family break the cycle of screen addiction.
The first step in breaking any habit is identifying that it exists in the first place. To do this, start tracking your usage. Most smartphones now have time tracking features installed so you can see when and where you are spending most of your screen time. You can also set up time limits on devices and applications. This way, you can get an accurate idea of just how long you are spending in front of screens each day and then adjust accordingly to ensure you are staying within your limits.
Turn Off Notifications
Notifications are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to screen addiction because they constantly pull our attention back to our devices throughout the day. To avoid this distraction, turn off notifications for all but your most important apps and websites so you only receive updates when absolutely necessary. This will be particularly effective at times when you don’t want to be distracted, such as during working hours or late at night.
Establish Tech-Free Zones
In addition to limiting your overall screen usage, try creating tech-free zones where you can unplug from your devices entirely for a certain period of time each day. This could mean leaving your phone in another room while you eat dinner or powering down laptops and tablets during family time on the weekends–whatever works best for you.
Doing this is a great opportunity to teach children about the dangers associated with too much technology. In turn, this can also help them to manage their own digital dependency, and instilling these good habits now will hopefully mean they hold on to them as they grow up.
Whenever you are home and devices are within reach, there will always be the temptation to quickly check notifications, which can easily turn into hours of scrolling. You could take it one step beyond the tech-free zones at home and ask the entire household to engage in a digital detox, leaving devices behind whenever you venture outside for a family activity day. You will be amazed at how much quality time you suddenly have back, with no digital distractions to hinder conversations and exploration.
Consider taking a screen-free day, weekend, week, or vacation as a family. This is the perfect way to balance out all this screen time by replacing it with green time. Getting outside and engaging with nature has been shown through scientific research to have an abundance of health benefits. All of us need healthy breaks away from screens to recharge and get back to a balanced state, both mentally and physically. Spending some time outside helps kids relax and then come back energized and inspired as they continue with their day. Plus, without having access to their digital devices, children are more likely to engage with nature, which will hopefully spark an ongoing curiosity for the natural world.
Create an Unplugging Ritual
Another great way to break the cycle of screen addiction is to create an “unplugging ritual” before bed each night. This could include reading a book, listening to music, or meditating–anything that helps put your mind at ease and encourages relaxation instead of scrolling through social media until late at night. Not only will these alternatives help to cut down your screen time, but ditching the tech around bedtime can drastically improve sleep hygiene, helping your family establish a healthier routine.
Breaking away from technology can seem overwhelming at first, but with a few simple steps, it doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult as it seems. By tracking your usage, turning off notifications, creating tech-free zones, and developing an unplugging ritual before bed each night, you can take control of your screen addiction and start living a healthier lifestyle today.