How to Reduce Screen Time

Methods for Unplugging in Our Digital World

Laura Jones

In our current day and age, going somewhere without your smartphone is like walking around without your head. Phones seem to have become an essential part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine what life would be like now without them. They are a great tool for lots of reasons; keeping in touch with friends and family, writing emails, access to the internet for any question you may have, the list goes on and on. However, particularly with college-age students, phones can start to have a negative effect when they are not used consciously.

Studies show that average daily screen times of college students can be up to 8-10 hours a day. Usually, most of this time is spent on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, as well as sending text messages. Spending such a significant amount of time looking at a screen and mostly watching other people’s lives can have an extremely negative effect on emotional wellness and mental health. When you’re spending this much time on social media, you are essentially watching other people’s highlight reels of their life, and even if you are aware of this it will still take a negative toll on your happiness.

In a world so engrossed in phones, it can be hard to pull yourself away and find more productive and beneficial things to do. That’s why I put together a list of ways you can spend less time on your phone, and more time being present in the world.

When actively trying to spend less time on your phone, the little changes can be just as important as the big ones. One little change that can make an impact is that rather than waking up and reaching for the phone, try to let yourself wake up naturally. The way you start your day can determine how the rest of your day will go, and so starting your day calmly can help to ensure a positive mindset for the day. When you are eating breakfast, rather than mindlessly scrolling and eating, try to be present and think of what you want to accomplish that day.

Another way to spend less time on your phone is to put time limits on all your apps that you think you are spending too much time on. This can be done through the Settings app if you have an iPhone. When you have exceeded the time limit, a notification pops up forcing you to close the app. I find this very useful, because it makes you more conscious of how many hours of your day are going towards social media instead of more productive or fulfilling ventures.

The last way to spend less time on your phone is to explore new hobbies and interests. This can seem intimidating, or you may not know where to start. A hobby doesn’t have to be anything super specific or time consuming, rather, it can be best to start with the simple things; like going to the gym more or going on walks, cooking or baking, reading, journaling, painting, or drawing. The list goes on and on, but have fun with it! Something I like to do is to go on a walk, whether it’s in the woods or just around my neighborhood, and challenge myself to not touch my phone the entire time. This can be challenging, as it can often become a subconscious action to reach for the phone, but you may find that you feel a lot of mental clarity after going for a walk and just living in the moment with your thoughts.

Taking a step back from the screens can feel intimidating, challenging, or sometimes even boring. However, when you challenge yourself to become more present and entertain yourself in other ways, you will start to notice how great the benefits really are.