More and more of our time is spent on the phone to keep up with the world, connect with friends and family, and stream movies and entertainment. Most adults spend 10 hours a day or more on their device and teens spend more than 7.5 hours a day, according to the New York Times. That’s nearly a third of a day! While digital apps and technology are made to bring us closer to one another, studies show that spending too much time on the phone can negatively impact our relationships and our health:
- Having a phone close by negatively affects the quality of the conversations and connectedness we have with another person (source). Just like texting and driving, multitasking and being on our phone draws our attention away from our surroundings including the people we are with (source).
- Spending more time on screens or social media may increase mental stressors like social comparison, social isolation, and cyberbullying (source).
- Children are playing on a device more often than playing outside or with others. Too much sedentary screen time and not enough physical activity can contribute to weight gain (source).
- Using our phones right before we sleep makes us more alert and takes away the quality of our sleep. Not having a good night’s sleep can cause us to think and perform less efficiently the next day.
For the upcoming holiday gatherings, consider cutting back on your phone usage when you are with friends and family. You can fully enjoy the time you spend with the people around you and show the kids in the room what good screen time habits can look like. Moreover, you can refocus your attention to your personal needs, goals, and health. Here are some tips to try:
- Be conscious of when and why you are using the phone. Are you responding to an urgent message or are you simply browsing your newsfeed?
- Keep your phone out of sight. Avoid getting pulled into your device by putting it in your jacket, bag, or in another room.
- Turn off the internet or data for a set number of hours. This way, email, and social media notifications will stop coming in.
- When surrounded by family or friends, turn it into a game. Whoever gets caught using their phone has to (fill in an action).
- Spend time doing things that do not require a phone. When you are in company, play board games, start a story-sharing circle, or cook meals together. For your self-care days, try picking up a new hobby, sport, or book, embrace the city, or plan a day-trip.
What do you do to cut back on your phone-use? Comment below!
Written by Bonnie Tse
Bonnie Tse is the communications coordinator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food science from Hunter College.