Take a step back from your smart phone

Five tips to help reduce the control your smart phone has on you.

Over the last decade, how our society approaches technology has vastly changed and more people are connected all the time. Technology is not going anywhere, however, our technology-driven lives can harm our ability to focus. In fact, according to the Mobile Fact Sheet from the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans own a smart phone. This means more people are connected at all times. In addition, when youth see adults engaging in technology 24/7, they are more likely to adopt similar technology habits.

Michigan State University Extension has five strategies to help you find ways so your phone doesn’t control every moment.

  1. Turn your phone to silent, put it face down or out of sight. Everyone has been in a setting where someone’s phone starts ringing at the worst possible moment or someone is constantly checking their phone. Model to youth times where you turn your phone on silent, put it face down or out of sight. This allows youth to see it is OK to step away from their phone at different points, which types of settings are appropriate for phone usage and when a phone should be put away.
  2. Turn off all notifications from unnecessary applications. Everyone gets distracted at different times from a notification on their phone only to find out the distracting notification seemed unnecessary. Notifications draw your attention and get you to interact with your phone. Have a conversation with youth about which apps they should set up push notifications and which ones are unnecessary.
  3. Turn your phone to grayscale. People are easily drawn to something through the usage of bright colors; it can trigger our brain to feel good about something. By taking a moment to change your phone setting to grayscale, there is less of a temptation to look at your screen all the time.
  4. Create a family charging station and traditional alarm clock. Set up a location outside of everyone’s bedrooms where all phones can be charged. As a family, go back to using a more traditional alarm clock for morning wake up. If you remove your phone from your bedroom at night, the temptation to look at your phone is removed.
  5. Rethink the home screen. If you don’t see an app right away, you are less likely to be drawn in to use it. Consider keeping only email, map, calendar, phone and texting on the home screen and move the social media apps, games, TV streaming apps, etc. to the second or third screen. If you can’t see something at first sight, you might take a second to think if you really need to use it.

When adults model behaviors that showcase their smart phone isn’t in control, it send a powerful message to youth. When youth interact with adults who demonstrate and model positive technology usage, they are more likely to engage in positive usage.

For more additional information on this topic, read “Taking a step back from social media” and “Role modeling technology usage.”

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