Put the phone down!

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Carolanne Bamford-Beattie


Tips to help put down the phone

Ideas for the whole family to spend less time on their cell phones, reduce social media usage and more.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable about the amount of time you spend on your phone? Perhaps loved ones have given you not-so-subtle hints to simply ‘put the phone down!!’? 

While it might not be recognised as a condition, many researchers, doctors and experts agree that cell phone addiction is a real, and growing, problem. And it’s not just isolated to social-media hungry teens, the pull of the cell phone is something that impacts on all generations. 

It’s estimated that we might be spending as much as three years of our lives on social media. If you believe that, and you want to make a change – read on.

As parents we need to be extra mindful of the impact that too much technology can have on our lives, interpersonal relationships and of the example we’re setting for our kids.

Perhaps your new year’s resolution is to be more present and mindful with the technology you’re using. Habits aren’t all that easy to break, so we’ve listed some simple and straight-forward advice and ideas that will help you and your kids to put down the phone!

Kids learn by modeling us, and so healthy tech habits really do begin at home. The next time you’re tempted to reach for the phone, here’s some tips to try instead.

10 ideas to help you to put the phone down!

1. Power down

You’ll be surprised about the impact that simply turning your off phone for a few hours can do to break your phone checking habits. When it’s not accessible and you have to take that extra step to turn on your device to get to your apps, that added barrier will help significantly cut down the amount of time you’re spending on our phone. 

2. Go out without it

Running a short errand? Taking the dog for a walk? As long as there’s no reason why you would need to be urgently contacted for a couple of hours, and you feel safe, put down the phone and  leave it at home! It’s a great way to put a physical barrier in place and help you to break that checking habit.

3. Phone free zones

Create designated ‘put the phone down’ areas in your home. The bedrooms and dining areas are great places to keep screen free so you can concentrate on sleeping well, and connecting with your family over meal times. 

4. Phone free times 

Like phone free zones, dedicated times in your daily routine where you don’t use your cell are key to maintaining  the communication and harmony in the home, as well as encouraging healthy tech use. Make sure dinner time is always phone free and put it away an hour or two before bed to maintain really great sleep hygiene. 

5. Amnesty box

Why not create a physical space in the home where you can put the phone down and lock it away for a while? Everyone can take part, and the distance between you and your device is perfect to help you stop scrolling. 

6. Delete the main offenders

If there’s one particular app where you know you spend a little too much time (hello, TikTok), try deleting it for a few days. A digital detox is a great way to press the reset button and get into healthier habits.

7. Turn off notifications

Ping, ping! Made you look! Notifications are designed to grab your attention and lure you in to check your phone. By turning them off you won’t be tempted to keep turning your head towards your device, and check it at more considered intervals instead.

8. Go grayscale

According to business bible Inc Magazine, the trend for going gray in tech communities is a rising one. Anyone can do it, just head over to your phone’s settings to make the display less appealing. Some Silicone Valley insiders believe that it can slice your social media usage in half. 

9. Make it less appealing

Strip your home screen back, make it harder to find and access those tempting apps and give yourself a helping hand by making it easier to put the phone down (and less interesting to pick up in the first place!).

 10. Turn on Airplane mode

Putting your phone on Airplane mode can give you another physical barrier to stop. While your phone can still connect to WiFi on airplane mode, out and about it’s more challenging to access the cellular networks, helping you to put the phone down. 

How can I encourage the kids to put the phone down?

It’s great news that you’re motivated to spend less time on your phone, but when it comes to the kids? Whole new ball game.

So much of kids’ social lives and interests are wrapped up in the digital world, and taking their phone away from them can cause nothing but headaches for you.

So, how to encourage your teen to spend less time online and put down the phone? Let’s explore some ideas you can implement in your family today. 

1. Make a cell phone contract

Putting your expectations for how – and when – cell phones are used in your home gives your children the boundaries they need to keep their tech use healthy. Our top tip is to bring them along on your journey. Don’t make a cell phone contract something you impose on them, but something they are involved with. Cover all bases and make sure you discuss and agree on times they’re allowed to be on the phone, when they have to put the phone down, which apps are allowed and general rules about looking after and maintaining the device.

2. Set limits

Experts agree that children don’t spend more than 2 hours a day on their screens (excluding homework and learning), so giving them a designated time after homework is done and a window to wind down for bed is a good way to keep within recommended limits and make a plan that’s easy for them to follow.

3. No screen bedrooms

Sleeping and phones don’t mix. Setting a rule that bedrooms are screen free removes the temptation to stay up late and reduces the impact that the blue light from phones can have on disrupting sleep and natural body rhythms. 

4. Be honest

Let your kids know why it’s important not to spend all day on their cell phone, and why you’re asking them to put their phone down. Explain that things like social media need to be approached with caution, and how important it is to maintain face to face connections and conversations with others. 

5. Provide distractions

What better way to get them to put down the phone than to get them engaged with something else? Some ideas that get kids excited about spending time together, include:

  • Family games nights (especially if you let them choose the game!)
  • Nature walks or an outdoor activity that they love
  • Treasure hunts with prizes
  • Cooking together and experimenting in the kitchen
  • A treat meals out to their favorite place
  • Time spent doing their favorite hobby – why not give it go for yourself?

6. Have a family detox

Pick a week where you know you can really focus on the challenge. January is a great time to set new intentions and do it all together. Reset the whole family’s relationships with their phones with at least a weekend of putting down the device. Get your kids to be honest about how they feel after the detox – what did they lose from not having the phone, and what did they gain? How did that make them feel? Being conscious about the time we all spend on social media or mindlessly scrolling, and how we can feel really great when we don’t do it, is a good way to remind us of the benefits when we put down the phone. 

7. Set a goal together

Let the kids know that you’re also going to be following the rules and cut down on the amount of time spent on your phone. Put a plan in place where you all get points towards a reward (maybe a trip to their favorite theme park or meal at a restaurant they love) to keep everyone motivated to put down their phones. 

8. Get some help managing it all

Setting timers on when the phone needs to be put down, and being able to have that extra level of control over the device is key. Kids push boundaries and you’re busy and it’s easy to fall off the plan and make allowances when times are tough. Kidslox helps you to manage your schedule, block apps and websites and keep an eye on that amount of time your kid is spending online. 

For more information, and tips on how to stop tech becoming a problem in your home, check out our ‘guide to’ section where we share more family-friendly ideas and suggestions to help you all put the phone down. Good luck!