This year has seen a variety of studies show that too much screen time is bad for our health. If one of your New Year's resolutions is to spend less time looking at your smartphone, then read on for some expert tips to help.
REDUCE THE TIME SPENT CHECKING YOUR PHONE
Set times and guidelines allowing yourself to be on the phone only at certain times of the day says Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. Jin Han, who adds, "We do this all the time when we have other lifestyle issues like with exercising, for example. If you do not set some exercise guidelines for yourself, then it can lead to a sedentary life. Smart device use is the same problem. If you are on your phone excessively, it is not healthy."
Another way to use your phone less us delete all the apps you don't need, and turn off push notifications for the ones you want to keep to help reduce the amount of time you spend checking your smartphone. You can also turn notifications off for your email account so that it only updates when you manually refresh it.
BREAK YOUR RELIANCE
"There has been an evolution in technology as our phones have gone from just regular cell phones to smartphones that allow you to multitask all with one device," notes Dr. Han. "You use your phone now to receive emails, to text and chat and to access social media platforms."
To help break this reliance Dr. Han says ask yourself what you need your phone for at that moment. If you don't need to be on your phone, then don't use it. Another way to do this is to replace smartphone features with real objects, for example you can try breaking your morning habit with your phone by investing in a radio alarm clock, and start your new year by buying a new planner, so you write your appointments and to-do list there instead of in your phone.
BREAK UP WITH FACEBOOK
If asked where we spend most of our time online, many of us would say Facebook, with the social media site now boasting over two billion monthly active users. Quitting the site would for some therefore also mean less screen time. For those who want to try kicking the Facebook habit but need some extra support, the team behind the Dutch project, 99 Days of Freedom are here to help. Those interested can join up to quit the site for 99 days, with the team contacting you after 33, 66 and 99 days to see how you're doing. Those who wish to continue for longer, can.
LIMIT NIGHTTIME USE
Being on your phone late into the night can make it harder for you to fall asleep and wake up the next day, with many studies also suggesting that it reduces the quality as well as the quantity of your sleep.
Restricting your phone use at night can help you implement a healthy sleep hygiene behaviour, says Dr. Han, with many experts advising no phones for two hours before bed. If this is difficult for you, aim for at least 30 minutes.