An increase in communication promised by the digital age seems to have fallen a little short of expectations. While people may have been hopeful that social media would bridge relationships throughout the world, that isn’t always the case. Sure, you can catch up with your cousin from across the country. However, frequently, you may end up down a hate-read rabbit hole or arguing fruitlessly with someone you barely know.
Tech may be causing changes at home that you aren’t happy about — especially if the internet is interfering with your relationships. Maybe you can’t stop binging Netflix, or your partner won’t stop online gaming. Perhaps your child is constantly on social media. No matter how tech is taking over, it’s time for you to put a stop to it.
Tech dependence needs to be handled carefully, but there are steps you can take to curb your family’s usage. Cold-turkey isn’t necessarily the best option — cutting your family members off from technology isn’t realistic in today’s internet-dependent world. Instead, you should focus on ways to address the habit overall.
These tips can help you limit the tech use in your home.
1. Assess the Tech You Already Have
The latest phones, smartwatches, and other devices are always marketed to seem like they blow older versions away. Even if you have a device that’s just one model older, you might be tempted to immediately get that latest gadget. It may have cool new features, but it’s possible that you won’t want or need all of them.
One thing to do to cut down on tech use is to take a look around your home. You may find that you have multiple devices that you bought in order to keep up with the Joneses. How many of your devices do you actually use? If you do have extra phones, tablets, or smartwatches that all still work, you should reassess your buying schedule.
While you still may need to buy more gadgets, think carefully before you make purchases. For example, determine why you’re buying a new smartwatch, and if one of your old devices will fulfill that need. Or consider buying tech that’s limited to specific uses. When your kid goes back to school, you may need a way to contact them throughout the day. A kids phone will do that, and you can set it up so that they can’t go on the internet. Check gabbwireless.com for more information.
2. Set Up a Tech-Free Zone
Going completely tech-free in the home may be unrealistic. Kids might have to do their homework on a computer. You might need to take work calls from the living room. However, you can still cut back based on locations in the house.
Create a specific tech-free room, or rooms, in the house. You might decide that the dining room is a good spot to go without tech. After all, eating meals without a cellphone or TV is better for you. Or perhaps the bedrooms should be completely tech-free to avoid that harmful blue light at night.
You can also set up a tech-free zone by time. Have kids shut off their phones before bedtime? Power down your laptop after dinner so that you’re not tempted to check emails. Pick a time or a place that encourages family interaction.
3. Turn Off Push Notifications
Push notifications can be the worst when you’re trying to cut down on your internet use. You might be ready to put the phone down, but then a notification pops up and you instinctively view it. These notifications are incredibly difficult to ignore. They’re meant to draw you back into apps and keep you there.
There may not be an off switch for the digital age, but there is an off switch for most apps. It’s time to turn off all push notifications. This can be an incredible tool in helping you limit your tech use.
Rather than reacting to messages or social media chimes, you control when to go on your devices. You may also find that you’re more productive since you won’t be switching between tasks so frequently. It’s hard to reach a state of flow if you’re jumping onto Instagram every five minutes.
4. Use Idle Moments Intentionally
When you get a moment of quiet, it’s tempting to hop on a device and look for entertainment. The daily grind is exhausting, and a reprieve through tech use is appealing. However, in-between times, like waiting in the car to pick someone up, are perfect to fight the phone habit. Since they’re short moments, they’re easier to target.
The best way to overcome this problem is to think of something intentional to do. A quick stretch, writing in a journal, or even meditating are all good options that can improve your day. Encourage your family to do the same by modeling this behavior. You can even give them journals to pull out when they have a moment free.
Essentially, you don’t want your family using technology without thinking about it. That kind of behavior makes tech use hard to control. By creating an awareness of when you’re using devices, you can control the habit a bit better. Training yourself to stop reaching for the phone when your hands are free will help you cut back.
5. Plan Activities in Nature
One great simple and effective way of limiting the use of tech in your home is to plan outdoor activities. A hike once a week or a visit to a nearby nature preserve can help achieve your tech-limiting goals. Tell your family members to leave their devices at home, and then hop in the car. If you want to take photographs, bring a camera, and if you don’t have one, consider buying a disposable. They’re still available at a number of stores, and the results are always entertaining.
Want to see the positive effects of nature impact your family for longer than an afternoon? Turn your next family vacation into a camping trip. Don’t get an RV with TVs; get tents and rough it. Without outlets readily available, your family won’t have much choice but to turn off their devices. Before long they won’t even miss them.
You can even exercise in nature and improve one of the casualties of technology addiction: your health. It’s not only great for the body and mind, but it’s a wonderful distraction from the absence of tech. You could take a frisbee to the park or go kayaking on a camping trip. No matter what, the whole family will benefit from the change in scenery.
It can be hard to change behaviors that have become second nature. However, limiting technology has clear benefits. And with a concerted effort, your family will successfully cut back. When you do, make sure to celebrate — not with technology, but by spending more time together.