Too much of anything is a bad thing — and that definitely goes for internet scrolling. We know that in teens, social media can cause mental health issues and daily scrolling could be the reason you can’t sleep. But you don’t have to quit social media entirely. There are ways to filter some of the information overload, take breaks from social media and generally just be a little more mindful about your internet consumption. We asked Felice Miller Gabriel, the co-founder of app developing company Delvv, for her best tips on curbing that smartphone addiction.
1. Keep an eye on yourself. Felice says the first step is to figure out what it is that’s causing the information overload. “The average smartphone user checks their phone over 150 times a day and a majority of that is triggered by notifications,” Felice tells us. “The first key is to be aware of how you’re interacting with your smartphone. It might seem counterintuitive, but you can actually use an app to track your time wasting.” Felice recommends Checky, an app that tracks how many times you check your phone in a day, as a good place to start.
2. Find the culprits. Next, ask yourself — which apps are you checking a million times a day? Which ones do you find yourself going down a black hole of scrolling? Not all apps or websites are equal time wasters. The key is to figure out which ones are the worst culprits. “There’s so much information fragmented across too many streams on your smartphone. You have social stuff, the emails, the constant frenetic push notifications. It’s a conditioned response to open up our phones, but there’s a way to drill down and look more discreetly at the content you are focusing on,” Felice says. She mentions Quality Time, an app that tracks which apps you’re spending the most time on throughout the day and allows you to set limits on those time wasters.
3. Use your phone settings. This one’s simple, but many people never actually take the time to do it. “Go in and disable the pointless push notifications that are constantly nudging and annoying you. Not all notifications are created equally. Direct messages like email, text messages and instant messages are generally more important than the social media updates, sport updates and news items.” This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to simplify your smartphone time.
4. Out of sight, out of mind. Sometimes, even if all the annoying notifications are switched off, it can be way too tempting to check your social media of choice every five minutes — even though you know nothing’s changed since the last time you checked. But “keeping your phone out of reach when you’re doing certain activities throughout the day” is super helpful, Felice tells us. “The easier it is to grab your phone, the more often you’ll do it. It’s great to have a predetermined place in your home where you leave your phone when you don’t really want it. For me, I just keep it in my purse.”
5. Set boundaries. “Not all communication requires an immediate response. It’s really great to just set aside times of day for following up with non-critical emails and let people know sort of when your office hours are for emails and keeping up with communications.” If you’re really brave, you could also try this with texts (and Twitter mentions and Instagram DMs etc.).
6. Enforce the rules. Try bringing other people into your newfound non-tech time. Whether it’s your family or guests in your house, try building non-tech time into group activities. “While you’re out to dinner or hanging out with a friend, play the ‘phone stack’ game,” Felice says. “Stack your phones in the middle of the table and don’t check your phone until you’re done with your meal or activity. The first person to grab their phone has to pick up the tab. Seeing how often you feel the reflex to grab your phone the minute it buzzes or lights up will help you be more aware of your digital compulsions. This will also help retrain your brain to learn that nothing terrible happens when you don’t immediately respond to every text, call or email. At the very least, you’ll enjoy a great time with friends without the constant interruption of your cell phones.”
Bottom line: “I really think our phones should be more of an enabling device to live our lives, and not take over,” Felice says. AMEN!
Which of these tips are you going to try out? Tweet us your thoughts @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)