A slightly above-average achiever's guide to parenting
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Combating Smart Phone Addiction
April 11, 2017
I don't think iPhones are bad. They let me Facetime with family, they keep my 3 year old entertained on a 5 hour flight, they allow me to take tons of photos of my kids (probably too many photos of my kids...) and they help me work from home. So, in my opinion, the iPhone itself isn't the problem.
But we'd all be kidding ourselves if we didn't acknowledge that they are addictive. CBS recently ran a report on the fact that Silicon Valley has finally started openly admitting that they're trying to make you addicted to their phones, apps, and computers. I mean, we all knew it, but at least they're being honest.
Giving up my iPhone is not realistic for a lot of reasons. And while I published a post previously about tips for cutting down screentime, since then I've come up with some even better tips that have really helped me cut down on screen time and make me feel like I'm not addicted. Because, real talk, there were times when I felt like I couldn't put it down. You know that feeling I'm talking about? Where you're constantly checking it to see who liked what? And you're in a cycle of checking all your apps? Yeah...that's when you need to admit there's a problem.
But with the help of these tips, I really do feel like I've cut down on my phone use by a lot:
Turn your phone grayscale: A mom in one of my facebook groups taught me this tip after someone pointed out that it was the colors that are a huge reason why your phone seems so addictive. To make your iPhone gray:
Go to Settings
Go to General
Go to Accessibility
Go to Display Accommodations
Go to Color Filters
This has been the single biggest tip in cutting down my phone use. It just doesn't have the appeal when it's gray. So now instead of the "I have to check you" feeling I get when I'm using my phone, it's more of a "take it or leave it" feeling. And as some added bonuses, it is super annoying and hard to switch it back, so I don't "cheat" often; Chewie also hates using it when it's gray (I tell him that it's broken); and all my photos look super artsy in black and white.
Take a Digital Shabbat: For Jews that observe the Sabbath, the Torah requires that you don't do any work from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. That includes turning on lights or ovens or driving cars. A full observant Shabbat is a little too hard for our lifestyle. But there is a movement to take a "digital Shabbat", which is to stay off of screens from Friday night to Saturday night. I started doing this a few months back and I have to say that I love this system reset. There's really nothing so pressing that you can't stay off of email for one day. And it's just enough of a reboot that it breaks the "gotta check everything" cycle if I ever get caught in one. I really recommend doing this. If it's not for you, at least now you'll understand if I don't get back to your comment on a Friday night :)
Shut off push notifications: That little ding. That popup to let you know you have an email. Half the time it's just Nordstrom sending you a promo email or something else not important. But once your eyes are on your phone, you can get sucked into a black hole and before you know it, you're an hour deep into Facebook. So do yourself a favor and shut off the push notifications. To do this:
Go to Settings
Go to the app you want to shut off and there should be an option to shut off notifications
For mail, the option is to NOT push mail
You can also go to Settings>Sounds and turn off the sounds for each app so at least you won't hear the dings. On the whole it's just a good idea to shut off the sound and vibrate on your phone. I find that helps.
Get a Watch: If you check your iphone to get the time, you run the risk of getting sucked in to your phone. It's a great reason to wear a watch again, which I hadn't done in years. I started when Chewie was born and I love having a watch and now feel naked without one. If you just want to try watches again to see if you like it, there are some great cheap options from Amazon.
Like this one for only $29 (http://amzn.to/2oogQvT)
Or this one for only $19 (http://amzn.to/2ovKMqk)
Or go fancy for $17 (http://amzn.to/2p3GPHh)
Have a spot to put your phone at home: If it's in your pocket or on a counter, you will check it. Have a drawer or a cabinet where you can charge your phone and put it away. Out of sight, out of mind.
So that's all I've got. It's not a perfect system, but the grayscale option has made a huge difference in my phone usage. I have this feeling that smart phones are going to be here to stay, so it's unrealistic to go fully-ludite and stop using them altogether. But hopefully with these tips, you can at least be the one in control of your phone (in control of your toddler? you're on your own...)