Follow these tips to use your cell phone consciously and set a good example for your children regarding the use of technology
We adults understand (at least to some degree) how advertising and commercials work. Those juicy cheeseburgers or shiny new cars look pretty enticing, but we know they use tricks to tempt us, from upbeat music to hot young models. Now, how many of us have reached for our phones to check something “quickly” only to realize an hour later that we’re still glued to the screen?
In the case of cell phones and social networks, we may not know, for example, that engineers and designers use the color red in notifications to trigger an emotional response that makes us want to click or slide our fingers across the screen. Or that autoplay features are designed to dull our better judgment. In addition, more and more of us feel addicted to technology. As some in the tech industry begin to weigh in, including Tristan Harris, founder of the Center for Humane Technology and a Common Sense Senior Fellow, we’re beginning to understand why we It’s so hard to turn off our phones.
According to Harris, they are being designed for that purpose . And if we feel tied to our cell phones, imagine how our children feel. So if we want to try to set good examples of digital media use and make sure our families are using technology in healthy ways, we need to fight these tricks. We need to show our children how to get all the benefits of these powerful devices that we have in our pockets without forgetting that the priority should always be people.
Here are some simple tips – recommended by Harris – to avoid falling for the tricks phone designers use to keep us hooked:
Turn off all notifications except those sent to you by other people. Notifications can be useful when you are informed that something important needs your attention, like a text from your son or a WhatsApp message from your sister. But most notifications are sent by machines, not by people. And they’re designed to entice you to interact with an app that isn’t your priority at the moment. Go to your phone’s settings to disable all but messaging apps or other essential tools.
Turn on grayscale. All those colorful apps? They are designed to make you feel good when using them. If you want to spend less time checking your phone, removing the colors can help. Although it won’t be easy, we’re pretty hooked on all those bright colors. Most phones allow you to select “off” or less bright colors, check in your phone’s settings if this is possible.
Limit what’s on your home screen. Just keep your email, maps, calendar, and whatever else you use daily front and center of the screen. Put all your other apps, from games to recipes, into folders or move them to the second or third screen. If you don’t see them right away, you’ll be less likely to use them.
Find apps by typing their name instead of clicking the icon. If you take the time to type the name of the app, you give your brain a second to consider whether you really need to play another game of Candy Crush .
If you have a computer or tablet at home, remove social media from your phone. You’re likely to be more conscious about when and where you dive on Facebook and Instagram if you’re only doing it on a computer or tablet. If you are a regular social media user, you might be surprised how much time you actually spend on these apps. And when you feel the urge to add them back to your phone, consider where that urge is coming from.
Charge your phone away from your bed. It’s so easy to turn around, hit the snooze button on your phone’s snooze alarm, and immediately start checking the recent news or what your friends shared on social media. But is it really the habit you want to create? And when it comes to kids, having a phone next to the bed has been known to cause trouble sleeping. If you can, invest in a traditional alarm clock and keep phones away from sleepers all night.
Fight apps with other apps. It’s ironic, but some downloadable apps and extensions remove some of the triggers built in by designers and engineers, and help you be more aware of what you’re doing. Harris recommends Apple’s Night Shift setting that reduces stimulating blue light from the phone, as well as apps like Moment , Freedom , and InboxWhenReady . Plus, there are other apps to help kids stay focused while using their devices, and other great tools that can help kids and adults reduce digital distraction.