Our phones — filled with emails to check, social networks to scroll through, and apps to open — are designed to keep us glued to them. It’s easy to get sucked in and have trouble hanging up the phone. App and website developers have specifically designed it this way.
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Of course, you can rely on willpower. Instead, I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but you can use your phone’s built-in features to limit the time you spend on it.
First, Check Your Screen Time
Your smartphone records how much time you spend looking at your screen, as well as which apps take the most time. Here’s how to find your Screen Time report.
On an Android:
- Open your Settings menu.
- To select Digital wellbeing and parental controls.
On an iPhone:
- Open Settings and select screen time.
- Go to See all activities.
You’ll see a graph of your activity, from the average daily time spent on your phone to your most popular apps. You can even see how many times you’ve unlocked your phone.
Setting limits on an iPhone
Need time away from your phone? You don’t need to lock it in a safe. Your iPhone has settings to reduce your usage while keeping it handy in case you really need it:
- Go to Settings > screen time, then tap Enable screen time.
- To select Continue on the next page and press It’s my iPhone. (Note: there is an option to select This is my kid’s iPhone if you want to set it on theirs.)
- Faucet Break time, then drag the toggle next to Program to the right to activate it. This activates downtime for the time you select. A downtime reminder will appear 5 minutes before it starts.
- To select Everyday Where Customize the days, then set the start and end times.
Only calls, messages, and apps you choose to allow are available during downtime.
Now, you probably need to access certain apps throughout the day for work or other important matters. You can set limits for app categories or individual apps in iOS:
- Go to Settings > screen time and turn on screen time.
- Faucet Application limits > Add limit.
- Select as many app categories as you want or get them all at once by selecting All apps and categories.
- To select individual apps, tap a category to see all apps in the category, then select the apps you want to restrict.
- Faucet Following and set the deadline. You can set the time for each day by pressing Customize the days.
- Faucet To add once you have finished.
Limit app usage in Android
Android’s Digital Wellbeing app lets you set app timers and schedule display changes. You can limit the time you spend in individual apps:
- Open your phone Settings application.
- Faucet Digital wellbeing and parental controls, then tap the chart.
- Next to the app you want to restrict, tap Set timer.
- Choose how long you can spend in this app. Then press Together.
You can also limit notifications for individual apps:
- Open Settings, then tap Opinion > App settings.
- Below Most recent, find apps that have sent you notifications recently. Faucet All Apps To see more.
- Tap the app you want to disable.
- Enable app notifications to Where disabled.
You have the start. Now it’s up to you!
Bonus Tip: The impact of technology on our body
Neck pain, muscle strains, and even “smartphone pinkie syndrome” are just a few of the ways technology can harm your health. I spoke with tech writer Nicolas Carr about the unintended impacts of technology on our bodies — and ways to protect ourselves.
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Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.