With the Coronavirus shelter-in-place orders, many of us are spending way more time on our smartphones, tablets and computers. While staying connected with friends and family during the pandemic is especially important, it’s easy to find ourselves overloaded with screentime – Zoom meetings, Facetime cocktail hour, Instagram exercise classes, movies/books, not to mention all the time spent mindlessly scrolling on social media and the news. This is a good time to evaluate what you are spending your online time on and to prioritize what is important to you. While work is not an option and a good book or movie can be relaxing, the time on social media and the news are optional and often stressful. Setting up some boundaries now can help you feel a little more in control and help to create some sanity in this overwhelming situation we are in. Don’t be hard on yourself if you end up on an extra Zoom date with friends – the plan is to set good intentions, but be flexible too.
Smartphones not only tell you how long you have spent on your phone each day/week (horrifying!), but they also let you set up reminders to limit it. Here’s some tips to take control of your screen time:
- Track your time – keep a journal for a few days or use your phone’s tracking to see just how much time you are spending on the screen. See where your time is spent and decide what you think is important and what can go or what can be limited.
- Use the time management tools on your phone/tablet – set up “quiet hours” to schedule time away from your screen (for example shut the phone down from 9pm -7am) and use individual app time limits. Does 30 minutes on Instagram seem like enough? Instagram will remind you when you reach your time limit.
- Create a bedtime routine – and make sure it includes time away from screens. It’s an easy way to limit your screen time and will help you get better sleep too.
- Turn your phone off – try turning your phone off for a whole day each week. If that seems too drastic, pick a few hours during the day and turn it off.
This is an individual process that each of us needs to assess. Look for balance and re-evaluate when you feel like screen time is winning!