Ready for a digital detox? Follow these steps to stay off your phone this summer
Jul 2, 2023, 7:15 AM
(Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
Search for “digital detox” on Google and you’ll turn up 66.6 million search results. Despite its popularity, most of us don’t take enough time away from our devices. It’s unreasonable to say no screen time at all, but it can be surprisingly hard just to cut your screen time in half for a week.
One way to hold yourself accountable is to see how much time you’re spending.
Your smartphone keeps track of how much time you spend staring at your screen and which apps take up the most time. Social media, email and messages are the heavy hitters for most people.
Here’s how to find your screen time report:
● On an iPhone: Open Settings > Screen Time > See All Activity.
● On an Android: Open Settings > Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.
You’ll see a graph of your activity, from the daily average time spent on your phone to your most popular apps. You can even see how many times you unlocked your phone. Now that can get embarrassing.
Clean up your notifications as part of your digital detox
The buzzes, chimes and dings are phone make are Pavlovian. You hear one and you must pick up your phone, right? A simple way to instantly cut down on how many times you pick up your phone: Set it to Do Not Disturb mode.
Luckily, you can tweak it to make sure only the important messages go through.
Here’s how to make let select people’s messages come through when using Do Not Disturb mode:
● Go to Settings > Focus > Do Not Disturb.
● Tap People and make sure Allow Notifications From is checked.
● Tap Add People and choose from your list of contacts.
● Tap Done.
There’s a separate setting for phone calls, too.
● Go to Settings > Focus > Do Not Disturb.
● Tap People, then tap the menu next to Allow Calls From (the default is Contact Only).
● Choose Allowed People Only to let the people you added to the Focus and Emergency Bypass contacts ring your phone. Here’s how to set up emergency contacts.
There’s a hidden way to get through to someone whose phone is set to Do Not Disturb
I’ve used this with my son many times. Here’s how it works.
If you use an Android, take these steps. Steps vary depending on your phone’s model. You can always try searching your Settings for “Do Not Disturb.”
● Go to Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb.
● You’ll see a heading indicating things that can interrupt. Select People.
● From here, you can add people whose messages or calls will get through when DND is on.
Next up, let’s deal with all the time you spend using apps.
You don’t need to lock your phone in a safe to use it less
Your iPhone has built-in settings to reduce how much you use it while keeping it around in case you really need it. No extra downloads or apps to pay for.
● Go to Settings > Screen Time, then tap Turn On Screen Time.
● Select Continue on the next page and tap This is my iPhone. (Note: There is an option to select This is My Child’s iPhone if you want to set it up on theirs.)
● Tap Downtime, then slide the toggle next to Scheduled to the right to enable it. This turns on downtime for the time you select. A downtime reminder will appear 5 minutes before it begins.
● Select Every Day or Customize Days, then set the start and end times.
Only calls, messages and apps you allow are available during downtime.
Bonus digital detox tip
However, you probably need to access some 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.
● Tap App Limits > Add Limit.
● Select as many app categories as you want or get them all at once by selecting All Apps & Categories.
● To select individual apps, tap a category to see all the apps in the category, then select the apps you want to limit.
● Tap Next and set the time limit. You can set time for each day by tapping Customize Days.
● Tap Add when you’re finished.
You can also limit app usage in Android through the Digital Wellbeing app lets you set app timers and schedule display changes. You can limit how much time you spend in individual apps:
● Open your phone’s Settings app.
● Tap Digital Wellbeing & parental controls, then tap the chart.
● Select the app you want to limit or tap the hourglass icon.
● Choose how much time you can spend in that app. Then, tap OK or Set.
The app will switch to black and white when you have one minute left. After that, you’re locked out. You can override it if you really need to, but determination and commitment are key to a successful digital detox.