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How Can I Decrease My Screen Time? Part 2

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified 

If you need to decrease your screen time, try these additional methods. 

Decrease Triggers

A trigger is anything that causes you to want to engage in screen time. Triggers can be a time of the day, an activity, an emotion, a visual cue, or anything else. You may not have a thought or desire to check your phone until your phone lights up with a new notification, and then you have to check it immediately. The notification you received is a trigger. You may be able to decrease your screen time by decreasing your exposure to such triggers. For example, if your phone did not light up with a notification, you likely would not have engaged with your phone at that moment. 

Try these methods to manage your exposure to triggers. 

  • Turn off notifications/alerts on your devices. You can change your settings so that an application or program does not show notifications. You can also prevent text messages from showing when your phone is locked. You can block alerts that new movies, video games, or other media have been released on your streaming services. You can also put your phone on silent and turn it back on when needed. 
  • Move your devices to different locations. This action may allow your brain time to reconsider as opposed to mindlessly grabbing your devices. For example, you can move your TV remote to a new and harder to reach location. You can also charge your computer or phone in a location that’s out of sight. Many people have started keeping their phones out of their bedrooms in order to diminish the temptation to check their phone first thing in the morning or while lying in bed at night. 
  • Move applications and programs. You might often need to access your devices for work or school, so turning off notifications or simply not having your device nearby might not work for you. Instead, try moving certain applications to another screen on your phone or into a file on your computer so that you don’t automatically see it. You can also reorganize video game and streaming icons so that they are not readily visible or easily accessible. You can delete bookmarks or saved pages on computers to limit access. 

Establish Realistic Boundaries 

Boundaries can also decrease your screen time. Here are some ideas:

  • Focus on the time of day. Choose a time of the day when you are able to engage in screen time. You can decide to play video games only at night or check social media only during the day. You can decide to designate specific times of the day for screen time. You might also create curfews for yourself. For example, you can decide to stop watching TV at 8pm or to be off your phone by 9pm. 
  • Connect screen time with established routines. You can schedule your screen time around your pre-existing structure. For example, you might choose to check social media only during breakfast and dinner. You can play video games after work and before dinner, but not after dinner. You can watch TV after work, but not after your nightly shower. These routines can serve as placeholders.
  • Earn Screen Time. Schedule screen time in connection with completing obligations, chores, or other activities. For example, you can check social media only after you complete all work tasks. You can play video games after your exercise routine. If you feel that you need to earn your screen time, you will devote more time to engaging in other activities.  

When establishing boundaries, you need to make sure that they are realistic. For example, a boundary of never watching TV again might not be realistic. A boundary that encourages you to watch 3 hours of TV a day instead of 4 hours might be a better place to start. If you are unsure about whether your boundaries are realistic, try starting with smaller boundaries. You can always revise these boundaries in the future.

If you need help to decrease your screen time, consider participating in individual therapy. Symmetry Counseling provides individual therapy which can help you achieve your goals.

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