October 2, 2022

Many people today have a love-hate relationship with their phones. It keeps them connected to their friends and loved ones. But despite this interconnectivity, the phone is the perfect medium for exacerbating the feelings of loneliness.

Editor In-Chief, Parker Zhang

Seeing others living their best life on Instagram, carefully curated pictures on Facebook. No wonder why this piece of tech seems like a mixed bag. No wonder why people are trying to reduce their screen times.

Photo by Julian Jagtenberg from Pexels

As I write this I just listened to the lyrics, “put the phone away”, from Be Alright by Dean Lewis. Now even I struggle with this. I find myself skimming some choice sites for updates that usually never surface. But resolving this issue is a two-parter — prevention, and (harm) reduction.

Prevention

The first step to slashing your screen time is preventing the possibility of you using your phone in the first place. When I first got my phone, I turned off the display notifications ability on my phone. I also usually have my phone on Do Not Disturb 24/7. The first action means that I will never see a flashing screen informing me that someone I’m following has gone live or posted. I can concentrate on what I need to do at the specific moment rather than having my eyes half-focusing on the phone beside me, ready to pounce the second it glows. The second action is less achievable for some. For business people, being on standby ready to answer to clients is an essential part of the job. But say you are freelance, or you don’t need your phone for work; just put your phone on silent, if someone important calls you, it’ll still appear on the screen.

Photo by elifskies from Pexels

Next, think about separating your public and personal life. Consider deleting your social media from your phone and only accessing it from your computer. Without the ability to pull out your phone to scroll during lulls, you’ll actively find something else to do. You’ll create time. I’ve found that without social media apps on my phone, I can use that time to read 3, 4 news articles, do a chore I’ve procrastinated on, or just listen to some music. Remember, your social media is your public life, personal means your parents, close friends, and loved ones — not your colleague on LinkedIn, or your friend Craig who you talk to at the water cooler every day for 5 minutes.

(Harm) Reduction

I call this harm reduction because my phone can cause really high highs and low lows. Like your phone is causing a mini bipolar moment in your life. So reducing the contact you have with toxic materials will make you a happier person.

Now I admit, I’m working on this myself. I set timers for myself on apps that I know I struggle to control. Instagram Reels, Youtube Shorts, what can seem like one more video turns into half an hour wasted. I’ve heard of apps that can hard lock an app for a day once a certain time is reached. So for those willing to shell out a few bucks to truly better themselves, go ahead. For us frugal Freddies though, we’ll have to rely on encouragement and willpower. With my current setup when I cross 30 minutes on Youtube or Instagram my phone freezes the app for the day. But with my weak willpower, I usually end up going into settings and cancelling the time limit. Don’t be like me!

For a true reduction in screen time, you could always ask someone near you to take it away from you. To hold you accountable. Plus they’ll probably enjoy watching you wraith in the phone-withdrawal pain.

So there you have it! Turn off your notifications, get an accountability partner, and set time limits for yourself!

About Author

Parker Zhang

Hey there! My name is Parker Zhang and I'm the GNN Editor In-Chief! I am also involved in a bunch of other community and school initiatives including Student Council, Power in You(th), Track, Youth Leaders in Law, and Youth Parliament. Basically, I'm all over the place!

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