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Mind the mindless scroll

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Have you had a wake call recently? I have. Of all things, it was my phone that gave me a wake-up call. In a notification which felt more like an admonishing flashing bright on my screen, it said: Your average screen time last week was 11 hours, 32 minutes.

11 hours, 32 minutes of screen time? Who does that? Me apparently.

While I can justify perhaps an hour or two of the whopping 11 and a half hours with checking emails, typing notes and editing photographs (I’m an avid ‘iPhonographer’ after all), I have no clue what I get up the rest of the time. On second thought, I do. Like most of us, I’m guilty of the mindless scroll.

Let’s face it, we all do it. On public transport, in between meetings – sometimes during meetings! – watching TV, having a meal, it’s like a phone is surgically attached to one hand, the thumb in a state of consistent scrolling. I wonder how our species will evolve in the next decade or so? With one curved thumb from hours of scrolling, a dominant side of the body that gets on with life leaving the weaker side to scroll away the hours?

Have you ever double tapped a picture on Instagram without really looking at it before you were hurriedly scrolling down, not paying attention to what it contained because you were in such a rush to see more? I have. Then I had to scroll back up just to see what it was that I double tapped. A classic case of #fml

Have you found yourself lying that the first thing you do in the morning is to pray or plan for the day ahead when in fact the first most of us to is to reach our phone – not for the daily prayer, mind, but to have a mindless scroll on Instagram, or the social poison of your choice?

Following my wake-up call, have I done better this week? Not by much, I’ve only reduced my screen time to 10 hours 43 minutes, most of which is spent on social media – no doubt looking at cute cat videos. Desperate to reduce my screen time, I’ve investigated how one can possibly take a digital break. If like me, you’re struggling to keep away from your mobile phone, one the following should hopefully work for one or both of us.

Disconnect on the weekend
Designate a Saturday or a Sunday the digital Sabbath and disconnect from your phone a few hours, if not for the whole day. I tend to do that when I am out cycling; except for my cycling apps, there’s not much else running for a good two to three hours. Helps to keep your hands on the bar (or otherwise busy) to avoid the temptation of reaching out for your phone and having a scroll.

Bedtime prep
Research has shown that the blue light emitted by our digital screens can cause sleeping problems. If you want a good night’s sleep and also reduce your screen time, put away your phone two hours to bedtime.
Start the day right

If, like me, your phone is the first thing you reach our to, with the temptation to go on social media too strong first thing in the morning, go traditional and invest in an old school alarm clock which means you can actually leave your phone charging in another room and you don’t have to reach out for it until you’re fully awake and out of bed.

Social time-out
How many times have you struggled to carry on with a conversation at meal-time because a friend has been too distracted by their phone screen, making you feel whatever on their screen was far more interesting than you? In some social gatherings, the new rule is to collect all the phones and keep them in a bowl away from the dinner table, so instead of checking notifications and screen at the expense great company and deep conversations? Sometimes the rule goes as far to demand that the first person to reach out for their phone pay a fine. Isn’t that amazing? Real conversations IRL without interruptions from digital ones.


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