Five Good Gadget Habits

As we hit the start of a new year, many of us will be thinking about how to live a happier, healthier life in 2023. After the promises of spending quality time with family, improving our work-life balance, drinking sensibly and eating well, we might include building better tech habits into our new year resolutions. After all, without realising it, most of us are guilty of indulging using our gadgets in unhealthy ways.

From using our phones at night to doom scrolling, it’s easy to slip into these negative cycles that can cause us physical, mental and emotional issues.

To help kick off your new year with a happier, healthier start, here are five good gadget habits.

Turn off notifications

This is one of the first things you can do to reduce your phone-based anxiety. Even if you don’t think your phone is causing you anxiety, the constant pinging of notifications can distract you from more important things in your life. And the worst thing is that most of these notifications are unlikely to be useful to you. You can keep the notifications that really matter, but turn off any that aren’t time sensitive. You’ll be surprised by how this one simple action cuts down how much you use your phone. Without the constant pinging, you won’t feel the need to look at the screen so often.

Don’t sleep with your phone

It’s tempting but taking your phone to bed is a road to insomnia. We all want one last look at our socials before we go to sleep, one last check of our emails. But using your phone in bed is one of the worst culprits for keeping our brain fired when we should be winding down. If you regularly fall asleep with your phone in bed, start by placing it on your bedside table and settling down without it. Once you’ve cracked this, move on to removing it from the bedroom all together – you can get a cheap alarm if you need a wake-up call. And don’t forget – it’s also bad for us to wake up with our phones, not least because those early morning, bleary-eyed checks of our phones create eye strain.

Limit social media use

You can use your phone to limit how much you use your phone. Sounds counterproductive? It’s actually a smart solution if you know you’re using social media too often. There’s no denying Instagram and BeReal are invaluable tools for keeping in touch with family and friends, and for making new friends, but it’s also a time and energy drain. You might not realise how much you’re scrolling, even if you’re not posting or interacting. To limit this time drain, go to your settings, then the digital wellbeing section, and next to the app you want to limit tap ‘set timer’. Decide how much time you should reasonably spend on that app and set the timer. Your phone will then tell you when you’ve spent enough time on that app.

Create ‘no gadget’ areas of your life

All these suggestions apply to tablets and other devices too, but it’s your phone that’s the most dominant gadget in your life. In all cases, it’s important to have times and areas of your life when you don’t use any gadgets. As mentioned, going to sleep is a really important area, but also consider limiting gadget time during dinner with family or friends, and when you go out. Our tech can restrict our ability to live in the moment and appreciate those close to us. It’s also important for our children to spend quality time with parents and be social in real life – this builds better bonds, and helps kids work through problems and develop life skills.

Move your body

A side effect of too much screen time is that we move less. This can lead to back pain, neck pain, and a general decline in our physical fitness, which can, in turn, also lead to mental and emotional issues. It’s important to get up and move every so often throughout the day. Go for a walk, do some exercise, or just do some stretches regularly. Your device can help with this too. Set timers, say, once an hour, to remind you to get up off your chair and pull your eyes away from the screen. Taking short breaks to move your body is good for your fitness, and it can also refresh you in between tasks, helping you to work better and have more meaningful online interactions.

Also, while you’re sitting at your computer screen or even just holding your phone, be aware of your posture and sit up straight. Hold your phone up instead of looking down at it and you’ll have less neck pain in the long run.