After months of Zoom meetings and virtual classrooms, not to mention isolation that led to even more screen use than usual, this summer is the time to cut your family’s screen time way back, breathe in the fresh air, bask in the sunshine, and take back your life.
While these digital tools of ours can add convenience to our lives, we’re all well aware of their addicting properties and detrimental effects on our minds and overall well-being. If you’re looking for ways to guide your family away from their screens as you adjust your own digital habits, here are some suggestions.
Set up a basket or receptacle in a central location in your home where devices can be stored and charged. At a minimum, ensure that devices are put away there at night, but try to maximize the time they remain there during the day as well. Set clear guidelines for your children regarding when you expect them to store away their devices and when they can be used.
A simple hack to deter device use is to keep enjoyable music playing in your home. Having something to listen to may encourage family members to do more “real-world” activities around the house.
Cull Your Options
Audit the apps, alerts, and notifications on your and your children’s devices. By turning off all notifications, you begin to change the relationship to your device from one where it tells you what to do to one in which you’re in control of it. Keep only the apps you deem essential.
Switch to Black and White
Studies have shown that by simply switching your phone to black-and-white mode, you’ll use it less. It’s worth a try if it means regaining more of your life back or keeping your children away from the lure of their devices.
Replace the Habit
As you attempt to change a habit that is probably deeply ingrained, it might be helpful to replace it with something more worthwhile. When you feel the urge to “check your phone,” for example, perhaps instead you could stand up, step outside, or get yourself a drink of water. Choose something simple and enjoyable that will actually benefit you.
Books in the Bathroom
I don’t mean to get too personal, but do you take your phone into the bathroom? Make the bathroom a no-phone zone, and instead ensure that there are interesting books and magazines available to ease the transition.
Make detaching from devices fun and introduce a challenge. Can you and your family go an entire weekend without digital devices? Can you survive a week without Wi-Fi? Work your way up to bigger and more daring challenges and bask in the peace and presence you begin to experience in your family.
When all else fails, offer rewards. Most devices monitor screen time. You can set weekly goals and reward success, improving as the summer progresses.
For many, the call of our digital devices was too tempting to resist during a stressful pandemic lockdown, but it’s time to let that crutch go and refocus our attention on the real life before us. This is the summer to do it.