12 Tips to Change Your Relationship with Your Phone

People holding phones in a circle

We've all become dependent on our smartphones to keep in touch with loved ones, up-to-date on current events, and sharing our lives with the world, but it can also be hard to know when to put the devices down. When does mindless scrolling cross over into concerning behavior?

Does the thought of not having access to your phone cause you dread? Does your phone interfere with your relationships? If yes, you might already be guilty of problematic phone behavior. Here are 12 tools from CNN that can help you address your usage with the goal of achieving more screen-free time.   

Why it's important 

Watching a funny video might feel good in the short term but is being buried in your phone affecting your relationships with loved ones? The chair of the American Psychiatric Association's Council on Addiction Psychiatry Dr. Smita Das as told to CNN shares that recognizing the value of limiting phone use is critical.

Log your time 

How much time are you actually on your phone? You can use your phone's tracker, or try logging it yourself. Also helpful is to figure out what draws you into the phone. Does one text lead to spending an additional 30 minutes on Instagram? 

Limit yourself 

Screen-time-tracking tools can let you know when you've reached a daily limit for certain apps. Having the popup can be a good reminder to yourself that you might want to spend your time differently. "You'll actually have to consciously override it to continue," Lynn Bufka, the senior director of practice transformation and quality at the American Psychological Association shares with CNN. 

Know your triggers 

Why are you picking up your phone? What is prompting that behavior? Being on the phone can feel very rewarding, but knowing whether your usage is related to boredom or mental health issues can help how you approach your screen time reduction. 

Dismiss your 'fomo'

You might be afraid to put your phone down because you will feel disconnected. You might not know where a friend went on vacation or where your cousin had brunch, but you can counter those feelings with a list of ways to connect with the people you love in a way that is more meaningful than their pictures on social media

Healthier activities by choice 

Arm yourself with alternative options when you feel like scrolling. "Think of three things you could do besides using your phone, such as reading a book you've been wanting to read, exercising or cleaning something," Bufka shares with CNN.

Create phone-free zones

You might say no phones are allowed in the family room, or phones cannot be used in the evenings, but it's good to set limits and to be mindful of them. 

Buy an alarm clock 

Using your phone as your alarm is a good excuse to keep it at arms reach at night, but if you are prone to using your phone before bed, first thing in the morning or even in the middle of the night, Bufka suggests leaving your phone out of the bedroom. 

Turn off your notifications 

When your phone beeps or buzzes it can be hard to ignore. If you turn off news alerts, email notifications and even text buzzes, it can help you be more intentional about when you check your phone. 

Use your computer 

Delete apps off your phone for sites that you can visit on your laptop, like Facebook. 

Phone stacking 

In situations where using your phone might not be appropriate like going out to dinner with friends, ask everyone to stack their phones on the table during the meal. 

Ask for help 

If you're having trouble achieving your goals, enlist the help of your family, friends or even mental health professionals. It's good to ask for help