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Mental Health

Reducing Screen Time and Fighting the Urge to Grab Your Phone

We’ve all been there. The midnight TikTok binge in bed while you wait to get tired. Or the hour of Instagram scrolling in between, or during, zoom calls. Or the obsessive checking of our emails, Twitter, or Snapchat accounts. If you identify with any of the scenarios, you may be over consuming devices. 

Well, if there was any point in time when screens dominated our daily lives, it's now. In addition to our personal use of devices, online classes and working from home drive up our screen time. 

Each of these screens emit the notorious “Blue-Light” that is coined dangerous after studies such as United Healthcare’s Eyesafe 2020 Screen Time Report concluded that long exposure has the potential to damage eyes over time. 

So are we device-users doomed? Will we be blind before 30? 

Well there are no promises, but there are simple ways we can slowly reduce our screen time in our daily lives and maybe save our eyesight in the long run. 

For the most part the necessary use of our laptops and screens for work, school, or other required means will be difficult to change, so our personal use of devices is in a position to face cuts. 

If you have an IPhone you’re all the more in a better spot to reduce your screen time. Buried in the Settings App you’ll find the daunting “Screen Time” section where all of our device usage statistics are compiled. 

Warning, you may wince at the sight of your average screen time and question how accurate it really is. Trust me, it's accurate. 

A few sections down is home to the “Set Limits” section where users can designate the amount of time allowed on individual apps. This tool will simultaneously be your best friend and worst enemy. Whether you choose to set limits on types of apps or break it down from app to app, try putting limits into place. 

Even better, seal them off with a passcode someone else sets up to ensure you don’t end up typing in the passcode when you’re desperate.

To decide how much to limit yourself, take a look at those fun statistics. Look from app and app and see which ones you use most. Are they necessary apps like Health, Maps, or Phone? Or are they social apps like TikTok, Instagram or Snapchat that dominate your screen time percentages? 

I suggest looking at your top “unnecessary” apps and trying to cut those in half. If your screen time is 2 hours on Instagram each day, set a limit for an hour each day. Wait a few days with that limit and watch as your screen time plummets. 

IPhone users can even see the number of times you pick up your phone. Trigger warning because this is a shocking number. Try to reduce this number by a third of what it already is. AKA check the time on your watch or on a real clock. Turn off notifications and you’ll, hopefully, find yourself not reaching for your phone every time it buzzes. 

You can also set hours in which your phone is on “Do Not Disturb” or “Downtime Hours'' where notifications are muted and you’re less likely to check for updates. Downtime Hours allows you to schedule time away from your device and limits the types of apps accessible at certain times. 

Don’t worry Android users, there are similar settings and tools to monitor screen time. Just head to Android's Digital Wellbeing setting and apply the same principles. 

At the end of the day, we all know the consequences of overuse of our devices, social media, and screens. Give it a shot and grab a book instead of reaching for your phone at the end of the night. 

 

 

Tori McArthur is a Journalism and Sociology major at Seattle Pacific University. She loves to travel and lives by Indy Blue's mantra of "creating the life you want." You can probably find her at a thrift store in Seattle with a coffee in hand.
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