Unplugging

Written by Jo Langford, M.A.

Screen time use can get out of control and if you find yourself ignoring your day-to-day responsibilities, health, or relationships then work to control or curb your habits. Use the Take Control Toolkit, courtesy of the Center for Humane Technology, to help regain a healthy screen use balance and read more below for simple tips and tools for unplugging.

Social Media
  • Turn off data and wifi every once in a while — you will still be able to make calls and text, but the really distracting stuff will be disabled.
  • Create some hard and fast rules such as “only people I know IRL (in real life),”  “people I would invite to my house,” or “people I would want to have dinner with” etc., then go through your contacts and delete/unfollow/unfriend.
  • Get rid of apps that stress you out, don’t make your life easier, distract you the most, and/or take up too much time or money.
Screen Time
  • If you are prone to social or attention issues, anxiety, or OCD, then your devices can start to feel like they control you more than you control them. If you cannot control or curb your screen time, it may be helpful to seek professional help.
  • “Parental controls” can also be set by yourself. Set healthy parameters, enter them into the system, then have someone else enter a password and commit to not giving it to you.
  • Notice how/when sites like TikTok, Netflix, or YouTube autorun the next video (and the next one…), “motivating” you to Just. Keep. Sitting. There.
  • Reflect on how tech use is impacting your health and well-being across multiple aspects of your life.
  • Set downtime limits. Create a custom schedule that allows you to disconnect from your device and focus on actual personal time with yourself and others.
  • Think about why you are picking up your device. Is it because you need to look something up, or are you doing so mindlessly?
Gaming
  • Give face-to-face interactions priority, and don’t make it easier for Non-Player Characters (NPC’s) to connect with you than your own friends and family.
  • Use gaming as a reward. Exercise or socialize for a few hours? Game for an hour. Passed that test you’ve been studying for? Get a new game. Think of it as leveling up.
  • Play games that involve cards, boards, pawns, dice, balls, and other analog means — not just screens.