Tips For Cutting Down on Technology Use

One of the goals many families (and individuals) have is to cut down on their use of technology (especially cell phones).  This is a laudable goal, especially for those of us with younger children in the house.  Much has been written on how affected our children are by our constant use of technology, particularly when it interferes with our ability to spend time with them or even just give them our undivided attention for a moment.  The problem is that cutting back is hard in a world where technology use is rampant and we are thought to be “on-call” 24 hours a day, but here are a few tips to help you do just that.

Set phone-free times

This is the most obvious and yet vastly underused.  I often believe people think it’s too hard to take chunks of time away from technology, but once you get used to it, it’s actually quite freeing.  However, a mistake that’s often made is when people try to cut it out for too long.  You don’t need to go a whole weekend or even 24 hours without technology to see a drastic improvement in your life.  Start by just doing 30 minutes a day once home from work; over time, continue to add 15-30 minutes to that amount until you’re at an amount you’re comfortable with.  For one person, it may be an entire night off once a week, for another it may be 2 hours, and yet another may stick with only 30 minutes; however, no matter what is chosen there is at least some tech-free time.

Silence the notifications

The beeps and bings and every other noise that comes from our gadgets is designed to grab our attention and garner our focus.  You hear the beep and it becomes nearly impossible not to check what it is which is why we see people frantically searching for their phone mid-conversation as soon as that noise is heard.  Our brains start to think of outrageous scenarios until we’ve picked up the phone/iPad/etc. and checked, but in reality nothing is likely happening and any piece of information gotten can wait (and that’s not to say there aren’t moments when you need to hear from a given person, but that’s what favourite people and numbers are for).  If, however, we remove the sounds that grab our attention and force us to pay attention to the technology over whatever else is going on, then we make it easier not be using tech at all times of day.  Out of earshot, out of mind (at least somewhat).

Buy a watch/get a standalone music/media player

One of the main reasons we bring out our phones (that main technology culprit) is to get the time or listen to something (podcast, music, etc.).  The problem is that we rarely do just that.  For example, we pull out our device to check the time, then we see a notification for facebook/twitter/email/chat and we just have to look at it right now.  So we open it up saying we’re only going to look at that, but then we realize we need to check our email or look up something online, so we do that.  Before you know it, we’re off on a complete tangent and the people closest to us have lost us to the lull of cyberspace.  Yet if we just had a watch to start, we could look at our wrist, see the time, curse at how late we are, and then move on, avoiding that hypnotic device that sucks us in.

Don’t do it alone

Cutting back on technology is hard, but it’s even harder to do by oneself.  If you have a partner at home who uses too much technology then decide to make some of these changes together.  Having someone else in the boat with you means that you have support and another person to talk to or otherwise engage with when missing the feel of that special device and the bounty of procrastination it offers.  This can be used in individual circumstances too.  Going to dinner with friends?  Make a deal that phones stay put away (though if you have kids with a sitter, you may have to put it on important calls only and accept answering that, but not checking every few minutes), that way everyone enjoys who they are out with instead of being a table of people engaged with their gadgets over people.


Cutting back on technology use is something nearly everyone could stand to do.  It’s a hard thing to accomplish in our world, but when you get away and experience the trees, lack of stress, or just time spent one-on-one with another individual (especially our kids), you can see how worth it giving it up temporarily really is.

Image via Flickr/Dave Catchpole

By Tracy Cassels

April 25, 2016