When was the last time you sprawled on the couch — or walked down the sidewalk, or tucked yourself into bed — without checking your cellphone?
A study this week offered new evidence of just how pervasive the lure of the almighty phone is. Nearly a third of teens bring a cellphone to bed at night, researchers found, and they get that behavior from their parents. Scientists are still figuring out how all this screen time affects young brains.
But here’s a bright spot: People are looking out for each other. We got more than a dozen emails from readers who wanted to share how they avoid cellphone overuse at home.
“When we bought our two daughters smartphones, we also provided them with a contract,” wrote Susan Beard, a Shoreline mother of two teens. “The contract says the phone belongs to us, the parents, not to them. As such, we determine the rules of use.”
One key rule: Turn in the phone every night (mom does it, too). “Many nights, it takes two, three or even four reminders to turn them in, but our children sleep better, and I sleep better, too,” Beard wrote.
She’s not alone. Another parent writes of a family charging station where everyone plugs in their devices at night. “No exceptions, even for mom and dad. Healthy marriage, healthy kids, and a charged phone.”
Here are a few more tactics to try:
- Keep notifications off, or always leave your phone in “do not disturb” mode so you’re not constantly interrupted.
- Keep electronic devices away from the dinner table. “Families managed for years to not eat their meals gathered around the wall phone in their kitchens so that they would not miss any calls,” one reader pointed out.
- Plan a family night at least once a week where technology is not present — perhaps bowling, cooking together or playing games.
- “Choose to spend the first and last hour of your day without the phone,” writes local blogger Autumn Sorelle, who has posted about the kinds of self-care she recommends instead.
- Get outside together.
- Make yourself work to look at social media: don’t stay logged in, and remove the shortcut from your home screen.
- Find a hobby that involves your brain and your hands.
- And then, of course: “Just turn them off!”