As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, more people are staying in to limit their exposure. While being stuck at home can lead to boredom, it doesn’t mean you should be spending more time staring at your devices.
According to experts, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a potentially unhealthy surge in the use of digital technologies. A Pew Research Center study found that 53% of Americans say the internet has been essential during the coronavirus pandemic.
Managing your tech time during these unprecedented times can be challenging, and yet it is also more crucial than ever. Here are a few ways to do so:
1. Have A Tech-Free Morning
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up every morning? Check your phone, right? Let’s change that habit.
Instead of spending the first 15 minutes of your day scrolling through Facebook, try meditating, journaling, or simply going for a walk. Start every morning off with something other than tech.
If you have children, consider creating a tech-free morning for them, too. Because no child will be able to stomach having their phone confiscated, consider getting them a kids phone that limits usability during the morning. Spend 15 minutes talking and connecting with your child with no television, no music, and absolutely no social media.
By disconnecting, even for just a few minutes, your mind can better focus on what’s really important. You won’t be influenced by the news or what a celebrity had for breakfast. You’ll be able to clearly assess your own feelings and set goals for the day ahead. Chances are, the more time you spend disconnected, the less you’ll rely on your devices.
2. Turn Off Notifications
We’ve built up a layer of anxiety surrounding our devices. We have to immediately check our phones the second we’re notified. Most of us can’t stand the idea of missing out on information, regardless of how trivial that information is.
Now more than ever, people are glued to their phones trying to stay up to date on all things COVID. The average person touches their phone 2,617 times per day; while tech can provide useful information, being dependent can do more harm than good.
A good way to break your tech addiction is by turning off your notifications. All of them! Consider deleting the apps that notify you frequently and stick to the bare minimum. If you need to stay connected to family members, you can add them to your favorites. This ensures you’re notified whenever they call or text.
3. Use Tech To Stay Healthy
Experts have already proven too much screen time can lead to depression and anxiety. But there’s another problem: Screens are starting to replace exercise.
According to a study conducted by Invoke, three-quarters of people are spending more time on streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+ than they did before the pandemic. Many of them found that time by cutting out their exercise regimen.
While the pandemic might keep you from the gym, it shouldn’t keep you from exercising. There are thousands of free, virtual exercise classes you can take advantage of. Allocate an hour each day to working out online instead of watching a show. Not only will this help manage your binge-watching, but it’ll also keep you healthy long term.
4. Have A Schedule
The most basic trick for managing your tech time is to set alarms for when you can use your phone. For example, start with a recurring alarm every 15 minutes. Then, every 30 minutes. Then, every hour. Each time your alarm goes off, give yourself two to three minutes to go through your notifications, check social media, and catch up on the news.
By creating a schedule, you’ll slowly change your habits and stop relying so much on your devices. Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to let your friends and family know you’re taking time away from your phone: You don’t want them to fear the worst when you’re unresponsive during the day.
5. Disconnect Before Bed
Electronics negatively impact your quality of sleep. Several studies have shown the blue light from devices suppresses the production of melatonin, interfering with sleep. Instead of feeling relaxed, scrolling through your phone increases feelings of alertness. A lack of quality sleep can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure and heart problems.
Make your bedroom a screen-free zone, and try to establish a relaxing nighttime routine that doesn’t include looking at Instagram. Take a hot shower and read a chapter of a book or journal for a few minutes. The goal is to wind down before bed so that by the time you’re laying down, you’re relaxed and ready to sleep.
6. Create Screen Time Rules
Do you have a family? Well, there’s no better time than a pandemic to create technology rules for everyone. You’re forced to work virtually and your kids are forced to learn online, and the only safe way to socially interact these days is through a screen. And with tech addiction rates going up, it’s important to put clear rules into place early on.
Creating tech rules isn’t difficult, but enforcing those rules can be a challenge. Have a conversation with your family about how technology will be used in your home. Discuss tech addiction and the negative impact it can have on your lives.
It’s also a good idea to write the tech rules and consequences down and put them somewhere visible, like the refrigerator door. That way, everyone will know what’s expected of them moving forward.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, you’re probably limiting your physical proximity to other people. Instead of going outside, you’re staying in and spending more time with your electronics. You’re not alone, but you’re also not helpless.
So, how can you govern your tech time when it’s such a necessity? By putting certain rules in place and being mindful of how you use devices, you can cut your tech time down and still keep your sanity.