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How To Break-Up With Your Smartphone, Just A Little

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5)-- It's no secret that Americans spent a good chunk of their time on their smartphone. Various surveys show the average American spends around four hours a day on their smartphone. That's more than a month and a half of time each year —  glued to our screens.

So much for all of our "no time" to exercise, cook more meals at home, or spend more time with friends and family excuses. Seriously, Imagine what you could do with just getting half of that time back. Isn't it ironic that we're a nation of people who covet freedom, yet so easily and willingly give it up for our devices?

According to USA Today, in just six years, a single tech device has gone from obsolete to an object people would be willing to give up food, sleep, and sex for. Another study by the Business Insider found that half of the participants would rather have a broken bone than a broken phone.

Here are some steps to breaking up with your phone a little, to get more time back in your day right now.

Figure out how much time is too much for you:

Take a look at how much time you spend on your phone daily and weekly.

For iPhones:

Open up the Settings app.

  1. Scroll down to the "Screen Time" section that's grouped with Notifications, Sounds, and Do Not Disturb.
  2. Tap on "Screen Time" to see your usage statistics. You'll see a "Daily Average." Just below that, click "See All Activity" to get your weekly stats.
  3. You can compare your weekly stats with past weeks by scrolling up and using one of the arrows where it says  "This Week."

For Androids:

While this OS can vary by maker, this is the most common way to find the info:

Go to Settings > Battery.

  1. Tap the 3-dot menu, and go to Battery usage.
  2. Tap the 3 dot menu again, and choose Show full device

Both options let you see some degree of where you're spending most of your time on your phone too, whether it's on social media, listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks, emailing, texting, online shopping, mobile gaming, etc.

Once you take an honest inventory about what's been taking up your screentime, ask yourself if you want to get some of that time back. You don't have to go cold turkey, even getting 50% of your time back could be significant.

It's not you, it's your phone.

Our brains are wired to get little "happy hits" of dopamine off of social media posts, online videos, mobile games, and more. Our smartphones are engineered to make us crave it. Tech companies actually hire psychologists, neuroscientists, and social science experts to help them hack the human brain and keep people coming back for more.

That's why a lot of us equate spending less time on our phones with giving up something we love. As author Catherine Price explains, we have to re-frame the way we think of our phone-time. "The time you spend on your phone is time you're not spending doing other pleasurable things," said Price. It's not the other way around. So instead of thinking of it as "spending less time on your phone," think of it as "spending more time on your life."

Outsmart your devices

You can use your screen-time settings to put limits on specific apps or lock yourself out during specific times of the day. Trouble is, it's really easy to ignore your own rules, especially with the built-in workaround the phones give you to buy more time online.

Using tech to save you from too much tech can be a good way to go. Turn off notification, and all of those rings, dings, and annoying things that constantly demand your attention.

Time-tracking apps like Moment, Freedom and Flipd also let you block your access to problematic apps and websites when you want to take a break.

Another way to make our screens less appealing is to change settings to black and white. Try it. All of a sudden Instagram isn't so awesome.

To turn your phone black and white, go to the Settings app > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters. They really bury that setting in there! Here's what the screens look like: Turn "Color Filters" on, and you'll see the option for Grayscale at the top.


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