Listen. The internet is kind of a scary place right now. And there’s lots of burgeoning research on social media’s effects on our brains and our emotions--like how it can create new pathways in your brain and stimulate your reward centers in a similar way to drug addiction. Even the light from your phone could have adverse effects on you.
The beginning of a new year seems like a good time to rethink the way that we interact with the social universe, at least for a little while. We’ve seen quite a few famous “digital detoxes” over the past year and they seem to be coming in vogue. But just like a juice cleanse, a digital detox is only meaningful if you use it as a starting spot to change your daily habits. The idea is to foster a more reasonable daily relationship with the social world, not just start binging again until you need another detox.
Ok, easier said than done. Here’s a few strategies you can implement:
1. Create “No Phone Zones”
This is a similar philosophy to the detoxes… this is a straight up ban, but only in specific places or during certain periods of time. Physically separate yourself from your technology during certain times/ in certain spaces to help reduce your dependency on it.
Some "no phone zones" to consider:
- At the table-- this is important for fostering meaningful conversations and really enjoying your meal
- In bed-- 8 seconds of google searching will explain how bad screen time is for your circadian rhythm, just don’t bring your phone to bed and you won’t be tempted to check social media or read an article on there while your brain is trying to shut down.
- Implement “The Amazing Hour”-- We love James Hamblin’s tongue in cheek video, but we also think he has a great idea here. Use the hour before you go to bed to do something analog: read a book, write in a journal, sketch or draw, meditate… see there’s at least four things you can do without your phone.
2. Get Back to Basics
Our phones have almost become parts of our bodies, not to mention the wearable tech that is close to actually becoming part of our bodies… This means that we often feel like we need phones around to do things that we used to do without phones. When you use your phone as an alarm clock, your very first interaction with the day is to stare into your phone screen. That doesn’t seem like a smart way to kick things off if you’re trying to reduce your social/tech dependency. Buy an old school alarm clock. Here are a few really cool ones. You can also buy an old-school egg timer for your kitchen.
3. Make it Personal
If you’re thinking of checking someone’s profile (I wonder what she’s doing lately?), then why not contact them another way instead? Think about how much more meaningful it is to get a call or letter. Set up a time or date to meet in person. Scheduling more regular meet-ups and activities with friends and family can be a great way to reduce social interaction and boost the really valuable kind.
4. Don’t "Push it Real Good"
Shut down the push notifications. Shut 'em down. It will be much easier to limit your time on social channels if they aren’t popping up and begging for your attention throughout the day.
5. Ask Someone for Help
Get an accomplice in this effort. Have your spouse, roommate or a friend dedicate themselves to reducing their social and screen time too. It’s always easier when you’re not going it alone.
What strategies are you using to create limits for yourself? Tell us on Twitter @Snapfluence.
Creative Community Director at Snapfluence.
There is often a pen stuck in my hair.