Learn to take a break

Our smartphones, laptops and workstations hold immense appeal.  It is how we check up on our friends, read through news articles and browse the latest trends.  We get our work done during the day on these devices and pass the time at night.  It is our entertainment and distraction.  Not only can this be detrimental to our health, but it also takes time away from God, from our families and from our lives. 

Tech companies such as Google and Apple make their fortunes by encouraging us to spend as much time as possible on our smartphones, laptops and other devices.  Companies such as these have spent decades commercializing our attention and are leaders in the field of addictive design.  And even when we are not actively looking at our devices, vibrations, dings and lit up screens try to pull us back into this digital world.

We need to learn how to put our phones down and replaces these impulses with healthier habits. 


Android – Digital Wellbeing

Google has its own screen monitoring tool called Digital Wellbeing offering two main ways to cut down on screen time: timers and modes.  With timers you can put time restrictions on any app on your phone and while the timer is easy to override and disable, the hope is it might make you think twice about firing up social media for the hundredth time in a day.

There is also a Bedtime mode and Do Not Disturb feature which will help wean you off your phone at the end of the day.  This allows you to define when you wake up and go to bed which will automatically turn your screen grey and limit notifications during these times.  Do Not Disturb will only allow starred contacts to call and message while you are in this mode.

This is running on any Android phone since 2019 and can be found on the Settings menu.


Apple – Screen Time

Apple has had a screen time management tool since iOS 12 and can be found on your iPhone, iPad and Mac computers.  Screen Time allows you to see how much time you’ve been spending on your device and which apps are primarily responsible.  You can put time limits on your apps with the ability to restrict your entire phone, restrict by individual categories or by specific apps.  You can also customize days to set different limits for different days.

Another option in Screen Time is Downtime.  This can be turned on immediately to shut off access to all apps except those you’ve chosen to let through, or schedule for more granular control to customize the dates and time you’d like Downtime to automatically turn on.  When Downtime is active, the blocked apps will be grayed out and inaccessible on your home screens.

As on Android, it’s not particularly difficult to turn these features off after you’ve applied them—some willpower will be required—but the warnings and restrictions Screen Time puts in place should encourage you to spend less time staring at your phone’s display.

Try Some Third-Party Apps

Google and Apple are not the only developers who recognize how damaging too much screen time can be.  There is a wide variety of apps available to help you cut down on the time you spend on your phones.

For Windows, Time Boss is a comprehensive and free option for controlling which apps run at which times, encouraging you to take a break when you need it. If anything, the program gives you too many options.  For Android there is the StayFree – Stay Focused application. A password with an accountability partner can be added to limit time usage.  For the IOs devices, you can use OffScreen – Less Screen Time.   A couple of cross-platform tools provide comprehensive app and website blocking on demand, forcing you to take a break from whatever it is you’re spending too much time on.  Freedom gives you plenty of flexibility over what you can block and when and works across Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.