During this time of economic lockdown and physical distancing, your smartphone is your lifeline to friends, family, work, and entertainment. But as most of us shelter at home in the effort to flatten the curve of Covid-19, there is also the danger of spending too much time in front of our screens. With all this additional time spent at home, digital wellbeing is more important than ever before.
While digital technology has the ability to improve our lives and enhance our sense of connectedness and happiness during the lockdown period, it can also serve to distract us. Research has shown that heavy smartphone use can have negative effects on our sleep, focus and our productivity at home and lead to stress, depression and anxiety. During the Covid-19 lockdown period, the mixture of boredom, anxiety and lack of personal contact can make us even more prone to excess screen time. If you’re feeling distracted by tech at home or are experiencing low mood due to too much social media and digital stimulation, here are some ways to help:
Use the Google Digital Wellbeing tools and app
If you have an Android device and are concerned about your digital use, you can use Google’s Digital Wellbeing tools to get a daily view of how often you check your phone and how frequently you use different apps.
You can also set limits with daily app timers and unplug at night with features like Wind Down, which reminds you to switch off at night by setting a bedtime schedule for your phone. You can also set daily timers if you want to limit the time you spend using certain apps or websites. When the timer runs out, the app or website is paused for the rest of the day.
Set boundaries for yourself
The lockdown has upset most of our routines, meaning that we are not able to socialise, exercise and get out and about as before. Whether you are working from home or unable to work right now, you may be spending more time with computer, TV, and mobile devices than ever before.
If you’re eager to limit your screen time at home, it can help to set a routine for yourself, including specific times that you use your smartphone as well as apps like Facebook and YouTube. Setting daily timers can you help you limit use of apps, so that you don’t feel bad for frittering time away looking at social media updates when you’d prefer to read or play a board game with the family.
One screen at a time
Many of us have become accustomed to juggling apps on multiple devices, rather than focusing on one at a time. For example, one might be replying to WhatsApp messages on a smartphone, running online banking on a PC, and leaving the TV on in the background. Reducing the noise and screens can help you focus on the task at hand.
Optimise your home screen and notifications
Turning off notifications for non-essential apps and removing them from your home screen can help you to focus on the things that really matter. If you’re spending too much time on certain apps you can move the apps that distract you, yet are not critical to day-to-day life or work, to a folder on the second page of your display.
Use voice commands
If you find that you get pulled into a social or media app when you pick up your phone to reply to a message, consider using Google Assistant voice commands instead. You can place calls, send text messages, play music, set an alarm, check your calendar, do a basic search and more without engaging with the screen.
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