I am afraid of the day my kids will have their own smartphone. Will they turn into little zombies like the rest of us? It’s more important than ever to give your brain some quiet time, the right to disconnect, but it’s harder than ever to keep away from these instant gratification devices in our pocket.
Maybe we can set rules around smartphone use at home? Enforcing these rules will be hard, if not impossible, with teenage kids but the least I can do is try to follow them myself. Not only will help my well-being but maybe, just maybe, it will set an example of when to put the screen down.
- An easy one to start with: no phones at the table. Nothing screams “I am physically here but what’s happening on Facebook is more important than talking to you” more than people on their phones at the dinner table. It’s the easiest rule to enforce since we are all in the same place for the same activity. It also empowers the kids to bust their parents. Phones should not only be out of reach but we don’t even pick up the phone if it rings during dinner. Table time is quality time.
- No phones in the bedrooms. What’s the very last thing you do before the lights go out? The very first thing in the morning when your phone’s alarm sounds? We still had one phone in the bedroom as an alarm but recently replaced it with a bedside clock. A fancy digital radio controlled one, so we don’t need to worry about daylight saving time like in the nineties.
- No doomscrolling when the kids are around. I try (but don’t always succeed) to only use my phone for calls when the kids are awake. It hopefully makes me less of a zombie and turns my attention to them. There is plenty of doomscrolling when the kids went to bed.
- Limit app time. Not sure I will be able to enforce this, but I am trying out the iOS app limit feature: 10’ of social media a day for example, no more. The limit can easily be overruled but serves as a reminder to stop wasting time.
Not rules as such but some bonus habits I formed around limiting my screen time.
- Install as little apps as possible. We use Slack at work but I don’t want Slack on my phone. My browser is set to remove all cookies so when I want to check Slack I need to open my laptop, type company.slack.com, unlock my password manager, and log in. Every single time. Enough friction to not quickly check Slack in the evening.
- Turn off notifications. Apps use notifications to lure you back, turn them off for everything that’s not time-sensitive.
- Don’t keep a charging cable on your desk. My phone charges in another room. I can still hear it ring but I have to walk over there to pick it up. This prevents me from compulsory checking my phone.
- Close your social media accounts. Seriously. I have no Facebook, no Instagram, and no WhatsApp. My partner does though, she acts as a proxy/filter for my social media use. The only one I haven’t been able to close is Twitter, not sure why.
Do you have rules around smartphone use at home?