Mental Health Blog

Putting the Phone down

When I first saw the number “7hr/day” on my screen time data on my phone I was in shock. I was in disbelief that I actually spent almost half of my day on my phone, this wasn’t even including time on my laptop in online class or watching TV. I felt guilty and that the time spent could have been put to good use doing productive activities. Before the pandemic I was aware that (like most teenagers) I spent a lot of time on my phone, but my usage has skyrocketed since the lockdown. Most of the screen time was spent on apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

I came to realize that there was a correlation between my overall mood and the amount of time I spent one these apps. Additionally, I found that the more I was on these apps, the less energy and motivation I had to go about my day. I think that social media can be a useful tool in order to stay connected during these times, however, it is easy to cross the line and lose track of time. Studies have shown that many social media platforms operate on a sort of dopamine reward system when it comes to likes, notifications and each apps particular features, keeping the person addicted. So when someone says “i’m literally addicted to Instagram”, they literally mean it.

Although difficult, I decided to begin lowering my screen time. I want to share the steps I took in order to do so and hope it can help others accomplish this as well.

  1. Go through your phone’s apps and delete the extra apps that you don’t need or use (you’ll also free some storage!)
  2. When you wake up in the morning, try not to immediately reach for your phone. Have some coffee first!
  3. At night put your phone away before going to bed (even for 20 mins). Find a different activity to do, such as reading a book or listening to music. The blue light that comes from screens actually makes it harder to sleep at night.
  4. See which apps you are using the most through your phone’s application that allows you to view the data. On iPhones you can find it in settings if you search “Screen Time”.
  5. Once you find your apps of high usage, if they are social media accounts consider muting all or at least some notifications so you are not checking your phone as often.
  6. Consider taking a full break by temporarily disabling some social media accounts. Instagram, TikTok and Facebook allow you to do this without having your account actually deleted.
  7. Make a list of things that you enjoy doing that you can do when you are bored (instead of picking up your phone). Or, if you have tasks that you have procrastinated on completing, take the new time you have in your day to work towards doing them.

I hope that you’ll find it as refreshing as I have. Compare your new screen time with that of before the changes you made and see how much time you have added to your day! Good luck!

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