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Addicted to your phone? These 5 techniques can help you to manage your screen time

Posted by
Susan Devaney
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Social media usage and screen time

This #ScrollFreeSeptember, put your will-power to the test by reducing your screen time with one of these 5 easy techniques. 

Now more than ever, we’re aware of the detrimental impact too much screen time can have on our mental health. The number one culprit? Social media. 

While social media isn’t all bad – in fact, it allows us to communicate with other like-minded people and connect with friends and family who live far away – there’s increased awareness that we should be monitoring how much time we spend scrolling through our news feeds and taking a deep-dive into other people’s lives.

Why? Because social media encourages us to compare our lives to the images we see on social media, which portray a false depiction of reality. After all, no-one’s life is as put-together, seamless and smooth as you might think by looking at their Instagram feed.

“When we derive a sense of worth based on how we are doing relative to others, we place our happiness in a variable that is completely beyond our control,” Dr Tim Bono, author of When Likes Aren’t Enough, explained in Healthista. “It’s nearly impossible not to get swept into the cycle of comparison.”

Woman on her phone scrolling through social media
Reduce your screen time: the RSPH's #ScrollFreeSeptember campaign provides 5 easy ways to cut down your phone usage this month.

Concerned but unsure about what to do next? We’ve got an answer for you.

For the second year, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is running it’s #ScrollFreeSeptember campaign – and they’ve provided us with five different ways to tackle our screen time and get our social media usage under control.

The best thing? Each level caters to a different level of commitment, so there’s no need to go cold turkey if you don’t want to (although if you did, you could gain over 100 hours of time in just one month). It’s all about taking those little steps – and today is a great time to start.

The busy bee 

Woman on computer at work
Reduce your screen time: giving up social media in the office could boost your productivity.

Method: ban your social media checking (and dating app scrolling) during office hours in a bid to boost your productivity.

Need some help? Dating app Bumble has just announced a new feature called Snooze which allows you to pause all activity on your Bumble app.

“Everyone needs a break from the noise and pressure sometimes – respectfully take the time you need to recharge, then come back and make even more meaningful connections across Bumble,” said Bumble’s founder and CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd. 

The social butterfly 

Friends hanging out and drinking wine, socialising
Reduce your screen time: improve your relationships by avoiding social media when you're with friends or family.

Method: ban your social media usage during ALL social events, and instead spend quality time with your family and friends.

There’s good evidence to show why you should step away from your phone while out socialising. According to a recent survey by Co-Op Insurance, 10% of UK holidaymakers said a holiday companion ruined their break away because they couldn’t put their phone down. 

Night owl 

Woman reading in the evening
Reduce your screen time: get a better night's sleep by giving up social media after 6pm.

Method: take a break from your phone altogether after 6pm. 

Did you know that phones can make us less intelligent just by looking at them? According to researchers at the University of Texas, phones work to erode our cognitive function, even when they’re switched off.

“Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process – the process of requiring yourself to not think about something – uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It’s a brain drain,” said Professor Adrian Ward.

The sleeping dog 

Woman playing with dogs
Reduce your screen time: make your bedroom a screen-free zone.

Method: don’t use social media in the bedroom – at all. 

Instead, catch up on your new shows like the Bodyguard or work your way through all of the great new reads for this month

Cold turkey 

Woman in nature
Reduce your screen time: escape social media for a whole 30 days and reap the benefits.

Method: no social media access for a month. 

Say goodbye to Instagram and log out of Twitter, for those people with the willpower of the Gods then this method is for you.

Instead, why not get out and about? You can easily pop to the beach or go on many short country walks, and you can even take up a new creative class or hobby.

Want insider tips on happiness, health, relaxation and more? Sign up for the Stylist Loves Wellbeing email

Images: Getty/Unsplash

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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