How to manage your screen time without a complete digital detox – The Washington Post

If your digital life is out of balance, reducing time on devices is an important first step. But the only way to truly gain control is to take proactive, optimistic steps. Building off a food analogy, try these four steps to achieve balance in your and your family’s digital life:

It could be when you are going down a rabbit hole of social media right before bed, feeling depressed afterward and losing hours of sleep. Or you could be getting stuck on your device at the dinner table and end up getting distracted from precious time with your family. Maybe you are inefficient at work because you’re doing too much online shopping.

Once you identify the pain points (for example, scrolling on TikTok for hours keeps you from sleeping and makes you feel depressed afterward), ask yourself: What is screen time replacing and what goals is it serving? In other words, what are you actually hungry for?

You might be endlessly scrolling because you want to feel uplifted at the end of the day, or because you want to forget about a stressful situation. Perhaps you miss spending time with others, and social media seems to be the next best option. Or maybe you’re just looking for a killer banana nut muffin recipe.

It’s crucial to pick something that consistently makes you feel good. It’s like trying to cut down — if you’re me — on salt and vinegar chips. Your plan may be to stop eating chips and switch to eating broccoli — even though you hate broccoli. Well, you’re setting yourself up for failure — and for binge-eating those enticing chips.

Instead, find something to replace the metaphorical chips that is also delicious and makes you feel healthy and satisfied. For example, if your goal is social connection, make plans for a nice meal with a friend or take that weekly meeting in person rather than via Zoom.

These four steps can build something that digital detox alone never will: A proactive relationship with digital technologies that allows us to take the best they have to offer, let go of parts that get in the way of a life well-lived, and become empowered, healthy and wise digital citizens.

This content was originally published here.

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