Smartphones and tablets can be addictive. According to the latest stats, people in the UK check their phones on average every 12 minutes, and end up spending over 3 hours a day glued to screens (outside of work!). Even kids are prone to this tech-crazy trend.
Our devices make our lives easier – they allow us to communicate quickly, order shopping online, and watch our favourite programs, to list just a few uses. Whilst they help out in many areas of our lives, they can also be damaging to others. Some studies suggest that excessive use of our tech has led to a decline in attention and the rise of certain mental health conditions.
Given the potential risks of too much screen-time, it can be beneficial to build in healthier habits and even embark on a digital detox. In this post, we give you some pointers on how to limit your use of tech without missing out on its functionality.
You might think notifications are pretty helpful – they let you know if you’ve received a message or update without you having to unlock your phone. These little reminders, however, do more harm than good. Every time you get a buzz on your phone or tablet, your attention is split down the middle.
The idea of ‘multi-tasking’ has been shown to be a false one. Rather than balancing numerous mental plates at the same time, it’s now thought that our attention is more like a spotlight that we switch from one thing to another. When we get distracted from one thought or activity by something else, it takes time to return to it. To be more precise, it takes around 23 minutes to return to something we’ve been distracted from.
Each time you get a new notification, your attention is drawn to it and away from whatever you were doing. This is terrible not just for your productivity, but also your sense of wellbeing. To avoid this unwelcome interruption, simply turn your notifications off for all but the most essential apps.
Use a real alarm clock
Our phones pretty much do everything, including stepping in as an alarm clock. Although it’s convenient to set a wake-up call on your phone, it’s probably affecting your sleep.
With a phone sitting on your bedside table, it’s tempting to reach for it late at night. The screen’s blue light keeps your brain buzzing and prevents you from falling asleep – try to detach yourself from all devices an hour before going to bed.
Waking up to your phone is equally bad. It overloads your brain with information just as it’s trying to ease into the day, and can cause feelings of anxiety and depression.
The best thing to do is turn to an old-fashioned alarm clock. It might not look (or sound) as good, but it’ll help you get a good night’s rest and a more pleasant start to the day.
As for your devices, leave them somewhere safe and out of the way. SLYK’s charging station is ideal for keeping them together and making sure their batteries are fully charged for when you need them.
Greyscale your phone
According to Google’s former design ethicist, Tristan Harris, one of the ways smartphones and tablets lure our gaze is by using juicy colours. The bursting bright colours apparently hijack our pleasure-seeking senses, just as casino-slot machines do, and before we know it we’re half-an-hour into a YouTube wormhole.
One way to stop this happening is by going retro and putting our devices into grayscale. Seeing in black-and-white is far less appealing for our monkey-brains, meaning that we won’t be gazing at the screen for as long.
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, simply follow this sequence to activate greyscale: Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Colour Filters > Greyscale.
Avoid passive use
If you take a look at what exactly you’re using your phone or tablet for, a lot of it probably isn’t that useful. Yes, cat videos can be hilarious, but if they’re preventing you from engaging in conversations with your friends and family, it’s time to ditch them. Rather than picking your device up whenever you please, be conscious about your usage. Only use it when there’s actually a reason to.
For some of us this is incredibly difficult. If you find it hard not to get hijacked by your screen, there are a few apps that can help you get in control. The app Moment, for instance, lets you put limits on your phone time and alerts you as you’re nearing it. Whilst it won’t prise your devices away from you, it will encourage you to be more mindful about how you use them.
Fit in tech-free times
The thought of being without a phone for any length of time can be enough to provoke anxiety. It can, however, provide you with a welcomed relief from being constantly connected to the virtual world.
We wouldn’t recommend going cold turkey for a long period of time straight away. Just one day a week is enough to help you reset, recharge, and get your head in order. It might even become a long-standing habit for your entire family, as Tiffany Shlain from Wired found out over a decade ago.
Smartphones and tablets are phenomenal pieces of technology. They open up a whole host of previously unthought-of possibilities and generally make life easier for us. As useful as they are, they can also be highly addictive. In order to get the best use out of them, we need to take a break every now and then and go on a digital detox.
SLYK offers a range of products to help you use your iPads and iPhones more conscientiously. Take a look at our full collection of Apple-certified stands and charging stations that get the most out of your smart devices.