Here you’ll find practical tips and suggestions to help you regain control of technology so you can enjoy the advantages of the Internet while rediscovering the benefits of screen-free time, especially as a family.
6 tips to set up your devices
To reduce the appeal of your screens, sometimes all you need is to adjust your personal settings or download certain applications. Here are six tips to set up your devices; it’s up to you to choose the ones that best suit your needs:
- Turn off all visual and audio notifications that are not essential.
- Deactivate the auto-play function, on your Netflix and YouTube accounts for example, so that videos stop playing after only one viewing or after a set period of time.
- Reduce the blue light emitted by screens – which has a harmful effect on sight and sleep – by activating the “night shift” function or the “blue light filter”. By downloading an application like F.Lux, you can automatically adapt your screen’s colors and brightness according to the time of day.
- Make your screens less appealing by turning on greyscale mode in your settings (a site like Go Gray can show you how) to eliminate the appeal of bright colours and their stimulating effect on the brain. Nudge, an extension for Google Chrome, reduces the attractiveness of websites by modifying their functions and design.
- Program a schedule for use on your home router (e.g., between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.)… and don’t forget to let your family know!
- Activate parental controls in your device settings or download an application (e.g., Ourpact, FamilyTime, Qustodio) to program usage times or block access to certain sites and applications.
10 suggestions to improve your digital habits
Do you feel like you spend too much time in front of your screens? Do you sometimes give in to the temptation to use them, even at times you know are inappropriate? If so, here are ten digital habits to adopt now:
- Evaluate your habits and set usage objectives by downloading an application like Space or by setting up the “screen time” function on devices that offer it.
- Dare to turn off your devices, whether it’s for a few minutes, a few hours or all day… The perfect occasion to question whether it’s essential to be reachable 24/7! If you unplug, remember to inform those who need to know.
- Avoid bringing your mobile screens with you everywhere and at all times by sometimes leaving them in another room or putting them away in your bag.
- Reduce your cell phone usage by only checking your texts, emails, and other messages every hour, then every two hours… to finally get to only a few times a day.
- Remove the most addictive applications from your home screen so they aren’t visible right away to help reduce their use. You can also simply delete them so you have to access them through a search engine.
- Avoid getting distracted by screens when you are with other people. If you have to interrupt a conversation to check your device, justify this action to the person in front of you.
- Ask yourself two questions before checking your cell phone: “Is this really important?” and “Can this wait?” To be more aware of how you use your phone, attach a rubber band or another object to it as a reminder of these questions before you activate it.
- Take breaks from your screens by sometimes activating “airplane mode” on your cell and by setting alarms on your computer to remind you to unplug at certain times throughout the day.
- Try not to check several screens at the same time to avoid developing a tolerance to overstimulation and multitasking.
- Turn off your screens when they are not in use so they don’t become a distraction.
Schedule screen-free time as a family
Here are a few suggestions to help parents and children reduce the time spent in front of screens, balance online and offline activities, and explore other ways to spend time together… But it’s up to you to find the best ways for your family to pause their screen time!
At mealtimes: Think of turning off all the screens before sitting down at the table to ensure they don’t become a distraction.
One hour after waking up: Agree on a morning routine as a family that excludes the use of screens (televisions, cell phones, tablets, computers).
One hour before going to bed: Establish a “charging zone” where family members have to set down their screens one hour before bed.
During family activities: Challenge your family to leave their screens at home during family outings.
During study time: Explain to your child that it is more effective to concentrate on only one task at a time… so their studying takes less time. Psst! This suggestion also applies to parents during work hours!
A half-day per week or per month: Take up an “unplugged challenge” as a family, without forgetting to plan activities to enjoy each other’s company and to fill the time usually spent in front of screens. For an even greater challenge, unplug all day!
In addition to screen-free times, why not establish “screen-free zones” in your home to better manage your connectivity as a family? For example, no screens in the bedrooms, at the table, in the car… or in the bathroom!