How often do you check your phone for notifications? How often do you open your phone and find yourself absentmindedly switching among social media apps for hours?
If you’re like many Americans, you probably are slightly addicted to your phone. We’re plugged in and checking on what’s happening at all hours of the day and night. Research shows too much time spent on social media negatively impacts our well-being, leading to increased feelings of anxiety, inadequacy and loneliness.
Major tech companies are beginning to roll out tools and resources within smartphones and apps that aim to curb screen time. Instagram and Facebook are updating their platforms to include a tracker of how much time a user spends, on average, browsing. Apple and Android have added tools in recent software updates that track how much time a user spends on one app and allows limits to be set.
For example, in Apple’s Screen Time, part of its new iOS 12, you can set a time limit for how long per day you want to scroll a certain app, such as Instagram, and once you hit that daily limit, you’ll be blocked from accessing it until the next day.
There are two steps you can also take to curb your usage. First, charge your phone nightly in an outlet that isn’t easily accessible, so you can’t roll over, grab your phone and mindlessly browse. Second, turn off all your push notifications, so that you’re not alerted by every ‘like’ or ‘comment’ that comes your way.
Although smartphones and social media have plenty of advantages, taking time to reduce our usage can improve overall health. Check in with your life in person, not just online.