How to Reduce Screen Time: 7 Best Tips for a Digital Detox


Feeling glued to your phone? These 7 tips on how to reduce screen time will give you that much-needed digital detox.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid contact with a screen in today’s digital world–after all, you’re likely reading this very sentence on a screen.

Aside from the great perks of modern technology, too much of it can be harmful to your health. Fortunately, cutting down on screen time can lead to improved well-being and a healthier lifestyle overall.

Negative Effects of Excessive Screen Time

A 2018 research study revealed that excessive screen time can cause negative health effects, especially in children and younger people. However, this doesn’t mean that older adults are in the clear.

How To Reduce Screen Time

The potential side effects of too much screen time include headaches, neck and back pain, impaired quality of sleep, obesity, depression, anxiety, and eye strain. For children and college students, excessive screen time can even affect their academic pursuits.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much?

While there isn’t a universally agreed-upon threshold for how much screen time is considered ‘too much’, it largely depends on factors like age and even job status.

For instance, studies show it is generally recommended that children between the ages of 2 to 5 get no more than one hour of non-educational screen time on weekdays and three hours on weekends. On the other hand, there are many adults working jobs that require around eight hours of screen time a day, making digital detoxes much more difficult to accomplish.

One way to determine if your screen time is negatively affecting your well-being is by evaluating whether the time you’re spending looking at a screen is beneficial to your mental or physical health, or if it is having the opposite effect.


Benefits of Reducing Screen Time

Excessive blue light exposure from our screens can contribute to poor sleep, eye strain, and headaches. Therefore, cutting down on screen time can give you a healthier body and mind and lead to a good night’s sleep.

Reduced screen time can also lead to increased productivity as it minimizes distractions from unimportant notifications, text messages, and more. This allows you to focus better and ultimately get more things done.

Additionally, reducing your screen time can help you expand and nurture your social life. Less time on your phone, tablet, or computer means more time spent with friends and family.

7 Tips to Reduce Screen Time

Rest assured, you can reclaim control over your digital well-being with the following 7 tips to help reduce your screen time.

1. Track Your Screen Time and Habits

Before you can cut down on screen time, it’s crucial to gain an understanding of your current usage habits. Luckily, you can gather a screen time report of how much time you spend looking at your phone screen and which apps you tend to stay on the longest.

How To Reduce Screen Time

Both iOS and Android devices have functions allowing users to track their usage habits. On iOS, this feature is accessible in Settings > Screen Time. There you can see your activity report on the time spent on apps you frequent in a day or week.

Similarly, Android has a feature that offers a similar report accessible in Settings > Digital Wellbeing.


Once you have a report, you can decipher what apps to limit or cut out of your daily or weekly device usage.

2. Set Screen Time Limits

If you’re struggling to hold back from scrolling aimlessly through certain apps, it might be time to set some screen-free breaks. Fortunately, both features mentioned above, iOS Screen Time and Android Digital Wellbeing, have screen time limit options.

However, the iOS Screen Time is a bit more lenient offering users to extend their time limit by 15 minutes or completely ignore it once the time is up. On the other hand, Android’s Digital Wellbeing will lock your app as soon as you pass the limit and can only unlock it if you disable the timer altogether.

This is one of the most effective ways to reduce screen time as it sets a goal in place and even allows parents to set up screen time regulations for their children and family’s devices. Setting usage limits on your kids’ devices can incentivize them to go outside and pick up healthier activities like sports or reading.

Likewise, it is helpful to try and limit using multiple screens at once. For instance, scrolling through social media platforms on your phone with the TV playing in the background. This is known as media multitasking and has been associated with negative consequences like social anxiety and even depression.

3. Turn off Notifications

It can be difficult to not pay attention to your phone if it is constantly buzzing with notifications. Turning on Do Not Disturb to mute notifications can erase any distractions and minimize the time you spend in front of a screen.

Both iOS and Android have Do Not Disturb features which can be accessed by swiping down on your device’s screen and tapping Do Not Disturb on Android or the Focus button on iOS.


These devices also allow you to change your settings to select which apps you wish to receive notifications from. On both iOS and Android, you can access this feature by going to Settings > Notifications. There you can turn off notifications from irrelevant apps and choose your alert preferences.

4. Switch to Grayscale

Another trick to limit the time you spend looking at screens is to make them less appealing. The colorful interfaces of our devices play a significant role in keeping us on them for hours.

To try and combat this, both iOS and Android allow you to turn your phone display to grayscale, which is intended to make your screen appear less attractive.

On iOS devices you can access this feature in Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Color Filters. There you can enable the Grayscale option.

Android users can switch to grayscale in Settings > Digital Wellbeing. There you can enable the Wind Down feature to turn on Grayscale or even schedule it for a later time.

5. Do an App Detox

Do you spend most of your screen time mindlessly scrolling through unnecessary apps? Going through your device and deleting apps you are addicted to is a good way to curb your screen time.

Whether it’s time-consuming social media apps or irresistible games, removing them from your phone will lead to more device-free time and potentially increase your productivity in more important activities.


6. Avoid Eating in Front of a Screen

As fun as watching TV while eating dinner is, it makes us pay less attention to the food we’re eating which can lead to unhealthy habits like overeating.

Even though we typically crave entertainment with our meals, it is important to practice mindful eating by putting your devices away, turning off the TVs, and instead sharing meals with friends or family. Leave your phone in another room and engage in meaningful conversation!

7. Pick Up a New Hobby or Activity

One of the most fulfilling ways to reduce screen time is by picking up a new hobby or activity. Of course, the hobby would ideally not involve any phone or computer screen, as that would defeat the purpose.

The goal here is to leave behind modern technology for a while and go back to old-fashioned pen and paper. For instance, read a physical book, write in a journal, socialize with friends and family, or go outside and do a physical activity like running or biking.

This can be challenging for those working from home who are tasked with taking Zoom calls all day and are glued to an online workspace. If you’re in that boat, try taking small breaks every 30 minutes to clear your head and relax your eyes.

If you can’t follow all of these tips right from the start, you’re not alone! Starting small by simply deleting some addicting apps or setting screen limits is a great beginner’s move for reducing overall screen time. These 7 tips aim to help you avoid the adverse health effects that excessive screen time can lead to and instead assist you in developing healthy habits with your devices.


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Sofia Arteaga

Information, communications, and technology student with a passion for writing. Enthusiastic about researching and innovating technological and cultural spaces, and providing readers with engaging content. Eager to explore innovations in technology, culture, and film.
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