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Simple and Effective Ways to Reduce Unnecessary Screen Time


Close-up of male hands browsing the Internet on a mobile phone in nature, outdoors. A man in a white

Fully unplugging for a few hours, a day, or even a few days is a wonderful thing to do—and you should do it. But we also understand that sometimes you need to be reachable, and that means having your phone on you. So when you can’t unplug fully, how can you still limit your screen time? Here are three simple and effective ways to reduce the screen time you don’t actually need or want. 

Put your phone down.

Being reachable doesn’t necessarily mean that you have your phone physically connected to your body at all times. When you come home, put your phone down on the counter. Or if you’re with friends and want to have your attention available to chat and catch up, leave your phone in your bag.

We all know how easy it is to fall victim to the mindless pull-out-my-phone-and-check-the-time habit. By putting your phone somewhere out of reach, you can break this habit and allow yourself to put all of your attention on what you’re doing or who you’re with. Simply turn the ringer on if you need to be ready for an important call or text. 

Remove or uninstall apps you don’t need.

Many apps are designed to draw you in and keep your attention for as much time as possible. And when they’re right there on your home screen, it’s easy to get sucked in and spend more time on them than you meant to.

Every once in a while, it can be healthy and even a relief to go through your apps and uninstall the ones you don’t truly need or want. If you do still want to use the app occasionally, removing the app from your home screen or moving it to a page you see less often could be a good alternative. That way, when you do decide to open the app, it’s because you decided to do it, not because it was sitting there in front of you and drawing you in. 

Turn off non-essential notifications.

Notifications are a primary way that apps attract your attention and encourage you to open them. In many cases, notifications are valuable and wanted. Text messages wouldn’t be as useful if you didn’t notice when you received them. But other notifications, such as from social media or video games, primarily serve the purpose of making you think about the app and thereby encouraging you to open it.

Sure, there might be some apps you want to continue receiving notifications from, and that’s totally fine. But if you want to be more in control of the time you spend scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, turning off or limiting notifications can be a great way to put the control of your attention back in your own hands. 

Doing these things might not decrease your screen time by very much, but they will definitely help you make sure that when you spend time on your phone, it’s because you decided to.

Screens are, after all, tools. They’re not inherently evil or malicious, but they can be addictive. And the point where harmless screen time becomes a harmful screen addiction is the point where control is no longer in your hands.

By doing these three things and encouraging others to do the same, you can ensure that screens remain tools to use, not addictions to fight. 

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