Having recently taught a unit of work on Mindful Habits, I was shocked to find that the number one unhelpful habit, from children 6 and up, is probably not dissimilar to that of adults….
Limiting screen time. Or rather, failing to limit it.
It affects sleep, mood and emotions, social skills (or lack of) and much, much more. In fact, as much as I love technology, I have come to feel that phones – more specifically phone addiction – is the opposite of mindfulness. The enemy.
It corrodes attention and our power to direct our focus to a place of our choice.
And with all that’s currently happening in the world, many of us feel the grip of our phones (and news feeds) more than ever.
So with that in mind, here’s three tips that me and the kids I teach have come up with that have and are helping us to put those devices down:
- A year 6 child told me about an app called ‘Screen Time’. It’s awesome! It shows you how much time you’re spending on different apps and you can set limits so that a white screen comes up and tells you when you’ve had your daily allotted time on Facebook or whatever.
Of course, you can override this, but I find that I don’t. And while at first I’d often unconsciously scroll back to these same apps, only to be reminded that I couldn’t use them, over time I simply just stopped going to them as much.
- Setting clear boundaries is essential, especially if you read work emails at home. Make it clear to your self and others, that you may not reply immediately. You might choose to only check email 2 or 3 times per day (for me, this has certainly cut down on a LOT of wasted time checking emails by the ping). Maybe you tell your friends that you’re trying to improve overall well being and such trying to use your phone less… i.e. so don’t worry that I’m ignoring you. I’ll reply, just not immediately.
This might feel difficult at first. It might feel as though you’re going to lose business or piss people off. It might well provoke a great deal of anxiety. But after a week or so, you’ll likely start to notice how much more time and energy you seem to have when you’re not at the beck and call of your technology.
- I blogged a few weeks back on the topic of making it more difficult to keep up unhelpful habits. So… in terms of device use, what does this look like? Personally, I’ve found that keep my phone on silent and turning my phone over really helps (so I can’t see any lights flashing when a message comes in). Putting it physically away from me also helps, especially if I manage this at night time so that I’m not scrolling before bed.
Many of the kids told me they’d had success with charging devices in different rooms at bedtime. A few mentioned unplugging their TVs near bedtime, so that if they were tempted to watch it late into the night, it would mean getting out of bed to plug in the TV rather than just clicking a remote.
If you are looking to limit screen-time, try some of the steps above and let me know if you have any success! I’ll be sure to pass feedback on to the kids 🙂