We’re officially a nation of digital junkies.
According to an article published on the Huffington Post, adults in the UK spend on average more than one day per week (25 hours) online. It also revealed that 42 percent go online or check apps more than 10 times a day and around one in 10 use the internet more than 50 times a day.
What’s more, young people seem to be even more addicted to their screens. According to communications watchdog Ofcom, people aged between 16-24 spend more than 27 hours a week on the internet.
The health implications of spending so much time online are severe and range from physical symptoms such as poor eyesight and a lack of exercise to mental health problems such as stress, sleeping disorders and depression.
In our ever-connected world, devices are taking over our lives, which may be why many people in the UK are embarking on a “digital detox” for the sake of their health, relationships and careers.
But how many times have you heard someone say they feel like they’ve lost a limb if they don’t have access to their mobile phone or tablet? We’re so used to having a device with us 27/7 that detoxing can be difficult.
Here are some top tips for reducing screen time.
Put your phone away at meal times
Texting at the table is not only rude, but also prevents you from thinking about what you’re eating, which probably means you’ll consume more calories, not to mention food will taste much better if you think about what you’re putting in your mouth.
Buy an alarm clock
Most of us use our mobile phones as alarm clocks which means that they’re the last thing we see at night and the first thing we see in the morning. Buy an alarm clock and give yourself a break.
Charge your phone out of reach
Don’t charge your phone next to your bed to alleviate the temptation to wake up and immediately reach for your emails. Charge it out of reach or in a different room and engage with it once you’ve woken up. You’ll be much better prepared for the day ahead as you’ll have given yourself an opportunity to think clearly without distractions.
Be mindful of spending less time in front of a screen
If you’re anything like me you’ll catch yourself trying to do a million things at once; watch television, work on a laptop and message someone on your phone. Focus on engaging with one thing at a time and when you notice that you’ve spent a lot of time in front of a screen, put it down and do something else for a while.
Set a digital curfew
Enforce a mini digital detox every day. Turn all screens off half an hour before you go to bed. It will help you wind down for a better night’s sleep, but will also give you an opportunity to prepare for the day ahead.
Arrange to meet people
Don’t just ‘like’ your friends’ online statuses; give them a call and arrange to meet them in person. Our relationships will suffer if we’re only connected via digital mediums.
Leave your devices behind
One weekend try leaving all devices behind and go on a digital free adventure. Take a camera if you must, but mainly enjoy your surroundings without thinking about who’s trying to contact you or what’s going on in the world. It’s good for your mental health.
Take up a non-screen based hobby
If you’re struggling to leave your phone alone at home, try taking up a non-screen based hobby. Team sports, art lessons, cookery courses… the list is endless.
Don’t use your phone when you’re with friends
My pet peeve is being snubbed by a mobile phone when you’re in company of friends or family. Be present and engage with who you’re with at that moment. The rest can wait.
Turn off unnecessary notifications
Every app I download asks me if it can send notifications. Try turning off some of those notifications and instead only open the apps when you want to engage with them. You’ll see your productivity soar and feel more in control of your life.