April 24th, 2023

4 creative tips for “breaking up” with your phone this Screen-Free Week

If you’re old enough to remember how life was before the digital age, you might feel baffled at how quickly the world has changed.

Indeed, the rise of screen-based technology has changed the way we socialise, organise, work, and consume entertainment too.

In fact, we use our smartphones, computers and televisions so much that, according to research published by the Manchester Evening News, UK adults spend 75% of their waking hours looking at a screen.

Perhaps the most used of all the screens in your life is your mobile phone. It seems impossible to imagine that, just a few decades ago, we mostly travelled without phones at all – let alone a phone that also acts as a text messaging service, a map, a fitness tracker, a bank, and so much more.

Although our phones make our lives infinitely easier in many ways, you could feel you are becoming addicted to yours. A study published by iNews said 1 in 3 young adults reported “problem use” of their phones, citing distress when they cannot access their phone, and losing control of how long they spend using it.

If you can relate to that feeling of addiction, perhaps the upcoming Screen-Free Week, falling between 1 and 7 May, could be a great opportunity to kick your habit.

Read on to find out four easy tips for “breaking up” with your phone this Screen-Free Week.

1. Start small

If your smartphone is a fully engrained part of your routine by now, quitting “cold turkey” is not a particularly realistic goal.

You might be sick of how much you use your phone, but even so, setting achievable goals can help you sustainably reduce your screen time in Screen-Free Week and beyond.

For instance: if you’re doing some chores at home – say, cleaning the house or ticking some admin tasks off your list – grab an egg timer and set it to 30 minutes. Put your phone on a shelf and see how much you can get done in that time without looking at it.

Do this once or twice a day, and you’ll find your screen-free time goes much more quickly than you anticipated. Plus, as the days go by, you might be able to stretch your screen-free time to an hour or more.

2. Set time limits on your most-used apps

Although it’s not often advertised, most smartphones have time-limiting settings that can help you get out of your “scroll hole”.

If you’re an iPhone user, you can set time limits for apps by following these steps:

  1. Go to “Settings”
  2. Find “Screen Time” in the settings list. Here, you’ll find your daily average – beware, it might spook you!
  3. Go to “App Limits” and select “Add Limit”
  4. Find the apps you want and set a daily cap
  5. Once you’ve reached your time limit for that day, a notification will pop up that reminds you your time is over.

Setting digital screen time reminders can be invaluable – especially if you experience “time blindness” when scrolling on your phone.

3. Create fun screen-free challenges with friends

As Screen-Free Week approaches, it could be encouraging to get your friends and family involved with your plans to reduce your screen time.

You could even host a screen-free social evening at your home, where guests switch their phones to silent and leave them in another room for the evening. Instead of constantly using your phones, or sitting down to watch a film, you could play board games, listen to the radio, or swap stories over a meal.

These fun social challenges could incentivise you to break your phone habit and kick it old-school for an evening this Screen-Free Week.

4. Dive into a non-screen hobby you love

We all have hobbies that, with our increasing screen use, might be harder and harder to maintain.

If you find that you’ve shelved your much-loved hobbies in the digital age, Screen-Free Week may be the perfect opportunity to revisit them – especially as the spring weather encourages us all to spend more time outside.

Or, if you’ve been wanting to try something new but haven’t found the time, putting down your phone and concentrating on this new hobby could be both fun and engaging.

Hobbies to try or revisit could include:

  • A sport or form of exercise you enjoy
  • Artistic passions, like writing, reading, drawing, singing, or dancing
  • Cooking and baking.

All in all, when you put your smartphone down, shut the laptop, and turn off the TV, you might find there are more hours in the day to do other things you really enjoy.

Even if you need to use a screen for work during Screen-Free week, allotting no-screen hours outside of work could still be incredibly rewarding.

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