Every Sunday, I get this really cringeworthy notification that tells me how long I have spent on my phone. This little pop-up tells me I have spent around 6 hours on my phone every day, and about half of it is spent watching the baby on the monitor. Are you familiar with that shocking notification? Honestly, it makes me a little mad every time, and every Sunday, I say in my head the same thing, “I’m going to do better this week.” Then, the following Sunday, I see the same notification and either a slight increase or decrease in the time spent holding that little electronic leash. It started feeling like a never-ending loop of me trying to do differently, but no real change was happening.
A few months ago, I started trying to put time limits on my phone from 9am-2pm every day and only allowing 10 minutes on Facebook and an hour on Instagram. It started off well, but as the days came and went, I found myself hitting “ignore time limit” more and more. I’m apparently not as much of a rule follower as I think I am. I would pick my phone up (another fun stat you can find on your phone, the average is 63x a day) and would want to check something. Sometimes the little reminder of the scheduled downtime helped, and other times when the kids were gone or asleep, I would be a little more apt to ignore my limits.
All of this got me curious about the average stats for time spent on the phone. The stats are, well…unfortunate. Deyan G. (2021) from Tech Jury shared that the average American spends just shy of 5 1/2 hours on their phones every day, and half of that time, give or take, is spent on social media. The most shocking statistic that he shared, in my opinion, is that “13% of millennials spend over 12 hours on their phones daily.”
I thought about my brother, his fiancé at the time, and my sisters. I thought about how much they were on their phones, and I saw that statistic playing out in front of my eyes. I would watch my kids try to get their attention to no avail, and my heart hurt a little. I hoped I wasn’t like that, but alas, I knew there have been times where my phone and scrolling have come before my kids.
After researching and observing these real life scenarios, I knew changes had to be made that would stick. Finally, the planets aligned when I was given 2 weeks off from creating content on our Instagram business page. I took it as an opportunity to completely delete those time-stealing apps from my phone and be more firm with my time limits. Below is what I learned from my experience.
Easy ways to set personal boundaries with your phone:
- Set Time Limits
- This helps to keep random notifications from popping up to distract you. Originally, I tried for 9am-2pm. I did end up extending the time limit longer from 8am to 6pm
- Directions for setting downtime on your phone
- Utilize the Do Not Disturb feature
- I put my phone on DND when I wasn’t on call for birth clients
- Delete Social Media or Distracting Apps
- I started by deleting all of my social media apps from my phone but needed to add back Instagram for work. I kept Facebook and Snapchat off my phone, these are my least used but so easy to waste time on for me. I check them a handful of times from my computer.
- I use Instagram mostly for work, so make it a goal to limit my business time in the morning before my kids are up for the day
- Keep it out of Reach
- I kept my phone on the kitchen counter versus leashed to me during the scheduled downtime.
It has been a few weeks since I have implemented these boundaries on my own. The truth? I didn’t miss anyone on the gram, and no one missed me. I was a little bummed that I had to re-install the app on my phone, but I’m hopeful that I can take these changes on as the Sundays come and go. I am also planning to schedule 2 week-long breaks from social media yearly.
My son will be starting kindergarten fall of 2022. I don’t want to feel like my time was wasted scrolling my phone when we should have been making memories. After a recent networking meeting, I was reminded why I quit my 9 to 5 to start my own business; it was to stay home with my son. The business was supposed to be second, but somehow it crept up into being first. I didn’t love how that felt. I watch the time pass by and my son growing up too quickly. My heart aches for more time, and the desire to savor the sweet moments of our day-to-day become more intense.
For 2022, I hope you can all find time to be in the moment rather than living behind your phone trying to get the perfect shot for your feed. Cheers to a present and intentional 2022! Pro-tip, no one ever regrets spending more time with their kids.
Deyan, G. (2021). How Much Time Does the Average American Spend on Their Phone in 2021? Tech Jury. https://techjury.net/blog/how-much-time-does-the-average-american-spend-on-their-phone/#gref