There is no such thing as an incurable and inevitable global tech scourge
Your children are not doomed to screen addiction. Your partner is not doomed to screen addiction, and neither are you. If you want to reduce your screen time, you can. I am not saying that it will be easy, I am not saying that it is going to happen overnight; I mean it is doable. No matter what your situation is right now.
And I also want you to know that it is never too late to start reducing your screen time. I have coached many many people out of their “screen addiction” over the last four years. With this article, I want to give you hope if you are on that path.
Here are the first steps you need to take:
The first thing you need to do is to make the no-nonsense decision that this is it: you are through with scrolling your life away. You are done; you are taking back your power.
Screens are just devices. They are convenient, attractive, entertaining, smartly designed…, but they are just tools. And you are a conscious human being. Algorithms are powerful, but you make dozen of personal decisions every day of your life. And I am sure that when you are serious about something, you manage to get your way.
You have made difficult decisions before: quit a job, have children, get a divorce, move to another city, go back to school, change diet… Reducing your screen time will induce a shift in your personality; this is why you need to decide to be a different tech user.
Reducing your screen time is a biggy; it will have lots of ripples in your daily life. If you want to succeed, you have to choose to become a different tech user.
A precise assessment of your initial situation will allow you to prioritize further actions. I suggest you journal about these issues:
- What screen(s) are you addicted to?
- What kind of content do you get lost in?
- How do compulsions happen?
- What are the negative ripples in your life?
Bonus question: What are the advantages of your “screen addiction”?
It may sound counterintuitive, but there must be something you love about overscreening. Dig a little deeper on the dark side of the Force, and it may lead you to an aha moment.
Once you have more clarity, you can write down a short statement about the kind of tech user you want to become. You can even make a pact with yourself. Commitment helps a lot.
It may not sound sexy, but habits are your way out. You won’t have to change all your habits, but you will have to make some substantial changes. And spoiler: you may have to get rid of some of your current favorite habits: scrolling at lunchtime, swapping in bed, sharing your every thought with your online friends… As the saying goes, you can’t expect different results if you keep doing the same things over and over again. I know… it sucks! But there is no other option.
If you are not ready to change ANY of your screen habits, well that’s ok, you are just not ready to reduce your screen time. You can read this article again when you feel the timing is right.
Of course, you can try to do this on your own, but it will be so much easier if you have an accountability partner.
You need to find a non-judgmental person with who you feel safe so you can talk about your ups and downs. They have to be empathetic but not complaisant. You will need them to gain momentum; they have to be both supporting and bad-excuses-proof to help you overcome obstacles and move forward.
Share your first step goal with your accountability partner, and ask them to check on you daily at the beginning.
I suggest you debrief once a week and reassess your goal.
You have to stay the course for a minimum of two months if you want to fully embody your new habits. Then you will start being on autopilot, and around the 3-month-mark, the magic should happen; you will feel you have shifted to a new lifestyle.
If you follow these guidelines, you will be able to manage your screen time more consciously. You will regain serenity and live the meaningful life you aspire to. You got this!