Find screen-savvy balance

Digital devices help us connect with loved ones, keep us up to date with breaking news, and even track our steps! It is hard to imagine life without them now.

Our appetite for the internet is growing at a rapid rate – the number of unlimited internet plans in New Zealand QUADRUPLED between 2014 and 2015.

So how do we make sure we don’t byte off more than we can chew?

It’s simple… we become screen-savvy.

Screen savvy is about being aware of how our technology time affects us, our relationships and other parts of our lives. It’s about making sure we keep a check on things and ensure that we have the balance right.

Do you often find you get ‘lost’ on the internet and spend longer online than you intended to? Are you checking your phone during the night or as soon as you wake up?

If your answer to either of those questions is ‘yes’ don’t panic. This doesn’t mean you’re in the throes of internet addiction but it may be time to stop and think about whether you have the balance right when it comes to technology.

Smartphone addiction

Smartphone addiction is one area that is a particular concern. Nokia says the average person looks at their smartphone 150 times a day! There’s a simple test you can do to assess whether you need to start thinking about how much you use your phone.

Our devices and internet are set up to clamour for our attention. Each notification more urgent or interesting than the last one, which serves to distract us from the activity we were originally doing. This effectively trains our minds to have split or scattered attention as we surf from email to internet, back to email, internet, text and so on. This is detrimental to our ability to apply attention and focus on one thing at a time and can increase stress, fatigue and lower productivity.

We think this video sums it all up pretty well…

The benefits of unplugging

For most of us completely unplugging is unrealistic – sometimes there are simply calls to take, texts or emails to answer or moments we want to capture and share. But this doesn't have to mean being online and available 24/7.

Being away from our screens for short periods has many benefits.

Overall, it allows us to slow down and focus on the things that matter most, like enjoying the outdoors, spending time with loved ones or giving something new a go. Those things lower stress levels, improve relationships and boost wellbeing.

Five Tips to Help Your Digital Detox

  1. Set some time aside each day that is screen-free. For those who want to take things further… why not make part of your weekend screen free?
  2. Wear a watch. One of the most common reasons to pick up your phone is to see the time… and from there it’s a speedy spiral to car karaoke and cat videos!
  3. Turn off your notifications … less chirping means less checking!
  4. Switch your phone to flight mode. Turning off your transmission function means you to enjoy your camera and music in peace.
  5. Sleep easy! Use an old-school alarm and leave your phone in a different room when you go to bed. Light from screens stops production of the hormone melatonin, which is vital for getting to sleep.

Most of all have fun, be consistent and focus on all the things you gain from these small bursts of digital downtime.