Establishing Boundaries: Healthy Habits for Electronic Devices
Technology is not inherently bad, though. There are many positive aspects of evolving technology, such as:
- Being able to connect with old friends or people on another continent
- Access to information and courses that can educate us and keep us up to date with the latest developments
- Being able to stay in touch with what’s happening in the world
- Entertaining us so that we can unwind and relax
But when we lose track of how much time we spend with our electronic devices, it can start to dominate our lives and sabotage our relationships. Here are some examples of the adverse effects technology and electronic devices can have on us:
- It can impact our relationships if we don’t talk as often or spend quality time with our family and friends
- Accidents happen if we don’t have situational awareness, like if we text while driving or even just walking
- Working too many hours and therefore never relaxing or switching off completely
- Children sometimes never learn how to have proper conversations and how to interact with others socially
- Using electronic devices up until bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep and the buzz of an incoming message or flickering light can interrupt our sleep
- Spending too much time with electronic devices have been linked to mental disorders and stress related illnesses
- Electronic devices can interfere with normal childhood experiences and development – it may even have an effect on ADHD
- Too much device-checking can easily cause over-stimulation and lead to anxiety and or depression
How to Set Boundaries with Your Electronic Devices
The easiest way to have healthy habits with your electronic devices is by setting household rules for the whole family. Here are some examples of boundaries you may want to set:
1. No Devices at the Dinner Table
Set dinner time aside for conversations. Strengthen your relationships with your family by chatting about your day and discussing topics you never get time to talk through. It’s also a perfect time to pick up on any possible behavioral issues with your children so that you can address them before they get out of hand.
2. No Eating in Front of a TV Screen
A television that plays in the background can be very distracting, even when the sound is off. You and your dinner mates won’t be able to engage fully when your minds are in two places. If you go to a restaurant where there is a television screen, make sure you sit far away from the screen where it can’t distract you.
3. No Texting or Phone Calls to Discuss Really Important Issues
There are always gaps in a conversation when talking over the phone or through texting, which can lead to misunderstandings. These conversations should happen face-to-face so that you can see each other’s body language, facial expressions, and emotions and hear their tone of voice. You will also be able to discuss issues more deeply than what electronic devices will allow. The exception is of course when one is out of town or a time critical decision needs to be made.
4. Regulate Use of Electronic Devices on Vacation
Vacations should be set aside for relaxation, which is hard to do while constantly checking your phone for messages and emails. Try to go without electronic devices for a few days to completely unplug. With your next vacation, use your time to soak in nature, catch up and enjoy the company of loved ones, and rekindle your romance with your partner. Our nervous system needs this unplugged time to reset and heal itself.
5. Limit the Time Children Can Spend on Their Devices
Limit the time your young ones are allowed to interact with electronic devices to one or two hours per day, and never let them go to bed with electronic devices so that they don’t fiddle with their phones into the wee hours of the morning. Additionally, game time can be limited to the weekend, and electronic devices should be put away when they have friends over.
6. Switch off 1-2 Hours before Bedtime
The lights from our electronic devices repress our melatonin – the hormone that helps us fall asleep. If we keep going until it’s time to sleep, we end up rolling around in bed counting sheep. Make your bedroom a tech-free zone, and give your brain one or two hours of device-free time beforehand to unwind.
7. Adjust the Notification Settings
Turn off sound effects for any less-important notifications you receive. Most likely you don’t need to have your phone alert you when someone posts something on Facebook or a marketer sends you a promotional email. Constant buzzing leaves us overstimulated and feeling anxious.
Do You Have Healthy Habits with Your Electronic Devices?
It’s easy to become so attached to our devices that they become the most important things in our lives. And once we’re addicted, it’s hard to wean ourselves off our obsession. Retraining our brains takes time, so be patient with yourself and your family members when trying to implement new healthy habits. The most important thing is that you commit to making a real effort to spend more time relaxing with loved ones and less time with your electronic devices.
If you need any more tips to kick your electronics addiction, get in touch with me for support and guidance, and an understanding ear.