6 Steps to Solve Your Technology Addiction
Face it, your relationship with your screens is impacting your daily life in a significant way. The average American looks at their phone approximately 80 times per day (every 12 minutes). That’s an average of 4 hours per day! The average teen consumes 7.5 hours of media per day! So yes, if you’re anything like the average American (and most of us are), I can confidently say that you need to get control of your technology addiction.
As a specialist working with families and young adults, almost 100% of families I work with are dealing with “the screen issue.” Technology addiction can involve cell phones, video games, social media, or a combination of many things that contribute to an overload of media consumption. Family fights typically start with an argument about how much screen time is consumed per day. These arguments often devolve into an argument about how the technology is negatively impact the child. Young adults, using their screens as a vehicle for their social life and entertainment, get extremely defensive about any limits on these areas of their lives. This is happening in most households across America and around the world. It’s time to identify the problem and move towards fixing it.
The bad news is that this is an epidemic that has come on quickly and shows no signs of slowing. The good news is that it’s possible to fix this problem and form a healthy relationship with our screens. Below, you’ll learn about several concrete steps you can take towards solving this problem.
Health and Technology
When I look at any behavior, I view it through the lens of “health.” My job is not to judge any behavior, but rather to help people see how their behavior is affecting them (positively or negatively). There is no definitive definition of “healthy technology use.” There is no agreement about how much time is “too much.” We need technology to navigate our world today, so we must learn how to use it appropriately. In today’s world, it is not an option to “just say no” to all technology and all screens. Let’s look at some simple steps you can take today to have a healthier relationship with technology.
Step 1: Define what “Healthy Technology Consumption” looks like for yourself?
My hope is that pretty much everyone can identify some dangers of technology addiction. We can all relate to being compelled to check our phones (80 times per day!). Most of us can relate to that zombie feeling once we pull away from our glowing screens. Start by defining how much time you want to use technology per day. Most people report being on social media MUCH MUCH more than they want. For you, healthy technology consumption may look like 1/2 hour per day. For others, 2 hours might be fine. There is no right or wrong answer to what your individual plan looks like.
When I’ve spoken to middle schoolers and high schoolers, most teens admit (away from parent’s judgements) that too much screen time is bad for them. The majority of teens seem to feel that they should limit their screen time to 1-3 hours per day (remember: teens average 7.5 hours per day). For families, I would suggest talking to your child about how they define “healthy use.”
Think of how much better your life could be if you replaced 1-4 hours of screen time per day with something happier/healthier?
Step 2: Be honest about your usage
Take an honest look at how much media you’re consuming. Warning: you may feel nauseous when you see the actual numbers. For iPhone users, follow these steps to find out how much screen time you’re using per week and which apps get the most attention. For android phones, click here.
I also recommend the “Moment” app to help track your usage. This app lets you see how your days and weeks compare to each other. Compare where your numbers are currently to where you think “healthy use” should be.
Step 3: Start “noting”
There are loads of tips for helping you get back in control of your screen time. I recommend practicing a mindfulness technique called “noting”. Start “noting” by just being mindful/aware that you’re on your screen. This technique helps by building clarity around our habits. Watch a short video here that will teach you the basics of this technique.
Step 4: Use technology to help limit usage
You can start this process by simply deleting social media apps that are wasting your time. Read here about a variety of apps which help limit your actual screen and app time.
Most of us have a few website or apps we compulsively check. For this reason, it’s helpful to limit your access to those websites/apps. If you have an iPhone, click here to learn how to block those websites (don’t worry, you can still access them on other devices if you want).
On your computer, you can also limit certain websites. I recommend using “StayFocused,” which is compatible with the chrome web browser. This program allows you to define how much time you want to spend per day on specific websites and blocks you once you’ve used your daily allotted time.
Another way to limit your usage is by turning your phone to greyscale. By turning off the color on your phone, it’ll make your phone less psychologically attractive. Click here to learn how.
Step 5: Turn off notifications
Phone notifications need to be turned off. This is easy and makes a world of difference. You don’t need to be alerted/distracted EVERY TIME someone comments on a post, likes a picture, etc. Our phones are constantly buzzing with notifications, begging us to dive back down the internet rabbit hole. Learn how to do this here.
Step 6: Ask for help
Ask your friends and family for support. Dealing with technology addiction can be hard to beat. As with any problem, it’s easier to solve when we utilize our support team. You can ask your partner, parent, or best friend to gently remind you when they’ve noticed you’ve been staring at your screen for too long. Perhaps they’ll agree to minimize their own screen time when they’re around you.
Therapy is a great way to help learn how to build a healthier relationship with technology. Addiction Counselors are specialists in understanding how our brains get addicted and how to break the addiction.
If you or a loved one live in Winston-Salem, NC and want help with technology addiction, reach out to Christopher John Counseling for a free consultation. It’s simple, free, and enjoyable.