6 Boundaries to Set When Your Smartphone Is Taking Over Your Life

|by | Simple Homemaking, Spiritual Growth

6 boundaries to set when your smartphone is taking over your life

Not many of us will get to the end of our lives and think, “I’m SO glad I spent all those hours scrolling social media when I could’ve been busy in my home or engaging with my family!”

And as much as I love my iPhone, I have seen compulsive habits in my life that concern me since becoming a stay-at-home mom.

I have learned to pick up my smartphone every time there’s a lull. It’s easier than picking up a book. It’s easier than sitting quietly to pray. It’s easier than doing a chore or reading a book to my kids.

It’s almost like I’ve lost the ability to be bored. Stoplight taking too long? Check email. Kids in bed? Check Instagram. Long line at the store? Check blog stats.

The excessive-ness and compulsion of it are what give me pause. Because really, there is no reason why my email needs to be checked 17 times per day –no reason except lack of self-control.

A person without self-control
    is like a city with broken-down walls. Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)

How sad to be totally unfortified, open to attack, and ineffective in God’s kingdom because my own unwillingness to keep myself in check?

Because truly, how useful can I be when I’m perpetually distracted?

So, a while back, I began making definitive changes to the way I use my smartphone in particular. 

These have helped me cut back its power in my life in good ways!

6 Ways to Break the Power of Your Smartphone in Your Life

1. Delete apps that waste your time.

A while back I wrote a post 3 Apps You Won’t Find on My Phone (and Why Not).

This was an explanation for why I don’t have the Facebook app or games or blogging apps on my iPhone. This is all still true except for one blogging app, but even that one is on the fence.

Because while I love Facebook, not having it on my phone is a good limiting factor. Now that I only have it on my desktop computer, I’m obviously checking it much less. And the nice thing about Facebook’s Newsfeed is, the less frequently it’s checked, the more “high-quality” the content will be.

So, for example, if I check Facebook every 30 minutes, my Newsfeed will include low- priority posts to keep my content fresh (i.e. what my high school classmate had for breakfast). If I check it less often, I will only see the highlights (such as who had a baby, or activity from my closest friends and family and the pages I engage with most).

For you, perhaps this means deleting another app that occupies an inappropriate amount of your time. Instagram? Pinterest? Youtube?

No, the world will not end if you disappear from Instagram. 🙂

2. Wear a watch.

Many of us use our phone as our timepiece. But unfortunately, once we pull it out, we are often distracted by notifications or the ingrained habit to begin checking things.

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The simple decision to wear a watch can eliminate an untold amount of phone distraction.

3. Charge your phone in a room besides your bedroom

I recently read an article about the effect of blue light on our sleep (I wrote about it here). Blue light, the kind emitted by screens, contributes to wakefulness.

Since I was having trouble sleeping, I determined to stop browsing on my phone at bedtime. To help myself stick with this, I moved my phone charger to the kitchen. This became my phone’s nightly resting place.

I have been doing more reading at bedtime and getting to sleep faster as a result. I am far more satisfied with how I’m using that time.

What’s more, if someone needs to reach me in the night, my phone is still close enough to be heard if it rings.

4. Buy an alarm clock.

Some of you are thinking, “I could never do that. My phone is my alarm.”

However, there is the neat little invention called a freestanding alarm clock. You probably have one in your home.

If you want to set yourself free from the lure to mindlessly scroll when you should be sleeping, perhaps you should consider using this instead.

5. Disconnect email accounts.

I recently upgraded my phone, and when I did so, I first connected only my primary email account to my mail app. I intended to do the rest later, but I quickly saw the benefit to leaving them disconnected.

There’s only one email account that could potentially contain pressing emails. The other three have their place, but I like the boundary of only being able to check them on my desktop computer. Once a day is plenty, and realistically I still check them at least three times most days as it stands.

6. Get rid of it.

Just this morning I was read Matthew 5.

Verses 29-30 say this:

“If your right eye leads you into sin, gouge it out and throw it in the garbage– for better you lose one part of your body than march your entire body through the gates of sin and into hell.

And if your right hand leads you into sin, cut it off and throw it away–for better you lose one part of your body than march your entire body through the gates of sin and into hell.” (The Voice)

I do not think technology is evil.

Neither are eyes or hands.

However, sometimes we sin in how we use these things, and we know it. We know this sin is mastering us, but we’re not willing to part with the means to the sin because we like it too much.

Rather, we keep making new resolutions to get control of our media consumption (addiction?), knowing full-well these will fail. We do this to appease our conscious while still allowing ourselves to continue the destructive path.

For some of you, maybe God would have you get rid of your smartphone altogether? Is it not better to get rid of an iPhone than to gouge out one’s own eye? And yet God would require the latter, so why not the former?

I believe that if our lives our truly laid down, a living sacrifice to God, we need to be open to obey God in any area, whatever that may mean.

 

How do you keep your media consumption to a healthy level?

not many of us will get to the end of our lives and think

6 boundaries to set

 

16 Comments

16 Comments on 6 Boundaries to Set When Your Smartphone Is Taking Over Your Life

  1. Payton
    May 24, 2016 at 9:04 PM (1 year ago)

    Ugghhhh why is this so convicting!? Do I haveee too!? Great list! I guess I’ll try! Lol

    Reply
    • Katie Bennett
      May 25, 2016 at 6:34 AM (1 year ago)

      Lol! Ha! I hope you find a motivating freedom as you take steps to disentangle yourself from your phone! 🙂 It’s hard at first, but there’s a “break-free” moment for those who stick with it that is very eye-opening!

  2. Susan
    February 3, 2016 at 11:41 AM (2 years ago)

    My husband installed a combo USB port/outlet in our kitchen so that’s where we plug in all our devices (the top half where an outlet would normally be is two USB ports, so you don’t have to keep track of the charging “bricks” – just plug the cable straight into the wall). It’s so convenient and it took him about 10 minutes to install it. They cost $20-$30 at home and some office stores.

    Reply
  3. Victoria @ Creative Home Keeper
    January 28, 2016 at 3:24 PM (2 years ago)

    I held out for so long before I finally got a smart phone and I was doing well until last year when my third baby was born. Hours spent under a nursing baby opened the door to some very unhealthy habits! I got a FitBit for Christmas and it now serves the purpose of my watch and alarm clock which basically eliminates the need to keep my phone beside my bed. I also started what I call “The Kitchen Counter Hours” where I basically keep my phone on the counter for specific times during the day.

    Reply
    • Katie Bennett
      February 2, 2016 at 10:52 PM (2 years ago)

      I love the idea of “Kitchen Counter Hours!” That is something I need to consider doing intentionally during the day. I think it could be a great next step for me. Thanks for chiming in Victoria!!
      Katie Bennett recently posted…Seeing Suffering in Light of EternityMy Profile

  4. Megan
    January 24, 2016 at 8:42 PM (2 years ago)

    I love this! Your statement, “It’s almost like I’ve lost the ability to be bored,” is spot on. I have often felt exactly this way lately and I am trying to train myself to just live in the moment. Thank you for sharing this. It is so sad that we have lost the ability to simply enjoy the world around us. For some reason every one else’s world posted online is more important So strange! Yet, sadly true. Thanks for these tips!

    Reply
  5. Kelly S
    January 22, 2016 at 2:51 PM (2 years ago)

    I don’t have a smart phone, but unfortunately, feel like I’m going to need to get one soon simply because my non-smart phone is increasingly hard to use. Any messages with emojis come through blank, and I typically can’t receive any photos.

    So I’ll be keeping them in mind! I feel like there is a way to turn off data on an iPhone but keep the phone/text ability?? If so, I plan to do that so I can only use the Wi-Fi at home. 🙂
    Kelly S recently posted…A Meaningful Thanksgiving CelebrationMy Profile

    Reply
    • Katie Bennett
      February 2, 2016 at 10:53 PM (2 years ago)

      It is so smart to start with boundaries, because I would have NEVER thought I would be the person who was on their phone too much. 🙂 It’s crazy. You will love having one, but definitely be aware of the pitfalls!
      Katie Bennett recently posted…Seeing Suffering in Light of EternityMy Profile

  6. Jennifer
    January 22, 2016 at 6:52 AM (2 years ago)

    Katie this is excellent! We all need this reminder.

    Reply
  7. Mandi @ Most of the Mist
    January 21, 2016 at 9:10 PM (2 years ago)

    Thank you for writing this post! There are so many people who can benefit from these suggestions. I felt convicted about my smartphone taking over my life for a long time. I finally got rid of it about a year ago and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
    Mandi recently posted…5 Ways to Supercharge Your Morning RoutineMy Profile

    Reply
  8. Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life
    January 21, 2016 at 4:28 PM (2 years ago)

    I can relate to all of this! You make a really good point about if we don’t check Facebook so much, the feed will be more of what we actually care about. I have deleted apps and never bother with games. But I know I could still use more limits. Thank you for using scripture to support your encouragement. That’s really the best motivator. My husband also talks about going back to a non-smart flip phone often. Things would much simpler in a lot of ways. Though we aren’t to that point yet. 😉
    Lisa recently posted…What I’m Loving- Edition 5My Profile

    Reply
    • Katie Bennett
      February 2, 2016 at 10:50 PM (2 years ago)

      I was thinking about what it would mean to give up my phone just last night. …but then I thought about how heavily I rely on the internet and maps to navigate anywhere! The prospect of getting rid of it is honestly a great reminder to help me be disciplined with boundaries –because ultimately I don’t want to give it up! 🙂
      Katie Bennett recently posted…Seeing Suffering in Light of EternityMy Profile

  9. [email protected]
    January 21, 2016 at 10:45 AM (2 years ago)

    I love this list, Katie! I don’t have a smartphone right now just because it’s not a part of the budget at the moment, and it’s good for me in some ways (though I do plan on getting one eventually) because I don’t have the temptation to check it all of the time!
    Hannah recently posted…Why You Need a Quiet PlaceMy Profile

    Reply

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