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.
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?