Did you know that as of 2021, the average person in the US spends more than 5 hours on their phone? I know that I definitely struggle with being on my phone too often. Sometimes I willingly let it cut my productivity in half, and have even let it take some swings at my mental health. It got me wondering, in regards to screen time how much is too much? Could I possibly be addicted to my cell phone? I started doing research on how to decrease screen time, and put some exercises to the test. It’s no easy feat, but with these strategies, I truly believe that you can become less addicted to your phone as well.
I started to do research on how to free myself from my phones hold for myself, but it was my husband who wanted me to write a post about it. “Don’t you think other people could benefit from it?” he asked me. “I think I need to read it, too.”
So this is for anybody who has felt like a slave to their cell phone. This is for anybody who wants to be able to put the phone down, and in turn improve their mental and emotional health, cultivate healthier relationships, and massively increase their productivity. This is for YOU, for googling how to decrease screen time on your cell phone.
How to tell if you have an addiction to your phone
I’m assuming that since you are here, you at least suspect that you may be addicted to your phone. Even if it’s just a little bit. Of course, addiction is a strong word and there are varying levels to how big of a problem you may have, but some of the telltale signs of a problem are:
- Anxiety regarding your phone, or general anxiety
- You can’t sleep and check your phone multiple times in the night
- You find yourself scrolling without reason
- Phantom vibrations, or feeling a vibration when you didn’t receive a notification
- Your phone is significantly interfering with work, homework, or relationships
- People are expressing concern about your cell phone use
- You can’t leave the house without it
- It seems impossible to stop, even when you want to
- You text while driving, or during other dangerous situations
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, then you may have a problem. If you don’t experience any of these symptoms, you will still find value in having more control over your phone usage.
So when it comes to screen time, how much is too much?
There are a myriad of different answers to this question, and it seems that every expert has a different number in mind. The most common answers seem to be between 30 minutes and two hours, work related technology use excluded. But before we talk more on this, let’s dive a little bit deeper into averages.
In a survey done on over 2,000 people 18 years old and older, 46% of people responded that they spent between 5-6 hours on their phone every day, excluding work-related time. Surveys and studies on the ‘better’ side suggest 4 hours or more to be the average. So if you’re embarrassed by the amount of time you spend on your phone, don’t worry – many people are right there with you. But cutting down to only 30 minutes a day can seem incredibly daunting. It will be hard to make it without a game plan, especially when it comes to changing ingrained bad habits. Below are some strategies to become the boss of your phone, and no longer the other way around.
How to decrease screen time: 9 effective strategies
Decreasing screen time spent on your phone can be a hard process. However, doing so has been proven to decrease anxiety, including feelings of FOMO and inadequacies, and increase general mental and emotional health. Also going hand in hand with decreasing screen time is the amount of time that it opens up in your life – that you can use however you like! Deciding to decrease your overall phone usage by 1 hour allows you to spend that hour reaching a goal, working out, or getting some much needed rest and relaxation. Here are some ways that you can decrease screen time.
- Track your screen time. Most cell phones nowadays will track the time that you spend on your phone, as well as what apps you spend most of your time on. The first step to improving is knowing where your problem areas are so that you can work to improve them.
- Start small. As with building all habits, it is never a bad idea to start small. If you are usually on your phone for 6 hours a day, try to get it down to 5.5 hours. Once you’ve gotten comfortable at this level, aim for 5. Keep going until you get to your desired time.
- Avoid getting on your phone first thing in the morning. There are a lot of reasons that this is a good idea, but one of the main reasons is that starting your day on your phone usually leads to you staying in your bed longer, and therefore staying on your phone longer. The mornings can be a vulnerable time for phone usage, because its an easy option to start the day. Try leaving your phone out of your bedroom during the night. It’s always easier to remove the distraction entirely then have to rely on willpower! Invest in an alarm clock and make sure you’re out of bed before you even have the option to get on your phone.
- Limit push notifications. Nothing pulls you out of the zone quicker than a notification lighting up your phone. Eliminate any unnecessary notifications.
- Leave your phone on Do Not Disturb when you need to focus. When you need to be in focus mode, turn your phone on do not disturb or airplane mode. Only allow yourself to turn it off when the tasks you set out to complete have been finished.
- Leave the phone at home every now and then. Even the least-technologically addicted of us have a hard time with this one. It’s easy to feel like we need our phones on us at all times, “just in case.” However, consider leaving your phone at home the next time you have a quick errand to run. A great time to try this would be before going to a movie theater. You can’t be on the phone during the movie anyway, so leave it at home and see how you do.
- Delete the apps that you waste most of your time on. Especially if it doesn’t serve a purpose. Of course, you cannot delete every app that sucks up your time. But if you’ve been realizing that you have a candy crush problem and you don’t even like playing it that much, try deleting it.
- Leave your phone in the other room. Out of sight, out of mind. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll be able to get done without having a constant distraction.
- Do a cell phone cleanse. If you’re feeling ambitious, try doing a complete cell phone cleanse. Leave your phone out of the room whenever you can, and use it only when absolutely necessary. Do this for a week, or a month, and see how you feel afterwards.
Putting everything in this article to use
No self help article has ever helped anybody when left un-applied. If you think that the amount of time that you spend on your phone is a problem, then the only thing you can do is start taking actionable steps towards decreasing it.
Start by checking your screen time on your phone. Take note of the overall number, as well as the apps that are taking up the majority of your time. Ask yourself what your ultimate, BIG goal is when it comes to your screen time. And then write down a bite-sized, realistic goal that will help get you to your ultimate goal. It can either be time specific, like decreasing your overall phone usage by 30 minutes every day, or it can be to stop sleeping with your cell phone in your bedroom. With consistency and determination, you will be to your “big goal” before you know it.
Freeing yourself from your phones grasp will be incredibly beneficial in the long run. Not only will you be proud of yourself, but you will be able to see other affects in your life. Spending less time on your phone can lead to healthier overall relationships, better mindset, and more time to accomplish the things that really matter to you. Give it a try, and see what it does for you, and for your life. You never know, it just might change it forever, and for the better.