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How To Break Up With Your Phone in 2023: 12 Digital Detox Challenges - Antsy Labs

How To Break Up With Your Phone in 2023: 12 Digital Detox Challenges

If you think about it, a surprising number of our New Year’s Resolutions blame the same culprit: too much screen time.


From wanting to spend less time scrolling through social media to planning to spend more time at the gym, our phones and our screens end up getting in the way of many of our goals.


With reports of daily smartphone usage ranging from three hours and 15 minutes to almost five hours, it’s clear that a little bit less time on our phones would give us a lot more time back in our days.


One of the best ways to start taking back control of your day is with a digital detox. There are plenty of ways to go about unplugging your life, from short digital detoxes that last a day or a week to analog technologies that leave you less reliant on screens around your home


Since there’s nothing quite like starting off the new year with a fresh new attitude, we are here to give your New Year’s Resolutions a boost. 


Below you’ll find 12 digital detox challenges, perfect month-size experiments to help you actively reduce your screen time.

PUT THE REAL LIFE IN IRLA


Sometimes you have to unplug to connect. Earn each of these IRLAs by getting your hands dirty, breathing in the fresh air, and leaving your phone behind. Unwind and rediscover the joys of creating, crafting, and communicating. Each moment away from your devices is a moment to see the world with fresh eyes, to take in the day, and make a choice for yourself.


Now let’s go exploring.

What Are The Warning Signs You Need To Unplug

Before we dive into our digital detoxes, you may be wondering if you even need to do a detox in the first place. After all, how much scrolling is too much scrolling? How much screen time is too much screen time?


We’ll admit that even though the ~5 hours of cell phone screen time a day figure that the BBC reported sounds high, it could still be reasonable.


For one, it’s not necessarily true that screen time with a cell phone is replacing time without a cell phone. For many, using a smartphone or tablet could be taking up the time they used to spend on the computer.


For another, screen time isn’t always scrolling. While shopping and social media still play a big role, other apps that could have a more positive purpose are also on the rise. That includes apps for reading, listening to podcasts, doing yoga, and practicing meditation.


Before we rationalize all our screen time, there are definitely signs to pay attention to.


Dr. Jennifer Weniger from the Loma Linda Behavioral Health Center shares these signs:


  • Regular smartphone checking throughout the day, even when you don’t have a specific reason
  • Difficulties maintaining face-to-face conversations
  • Scattered, distracted mindset leads to making more mistakes
  • Poor, inconsistent sleep
  • Long periods of time without moving
  • Spending less time outdoors than you used to

Make 2023 Your Year For A Digital Detox

Whether you see those signs of needing a digital detox or you’d just like to spend less time on your phone, the following 12 ideas are designed to help you unplug. 

January’s Digital Detox: Turn Off All Notifications

Beep! There's a “Happy New Year” text. Bloop! There’s an email offering discounts on new phones. Ding! There’s a new video to watch on YouTube.


With the constant influx of notifications, each crying out in their own little way for your attention, it’s easy to slip into the scroll and see what else is happening on your phone.


By getting rid of all notifications (well, you can leave on the phone’s ringer and text messages), you gain back control. When you want information, you can seek it out. When you want to enjoy your time, you can wait.

February’s Digital Detox: One Device For Social Media

When your social media is in your pocket, there will always be temptation to spend time scrolling through to see what the world is up to.


What if, for even just one month, your phone became a phone again? By removing social media from multiple devices and relegating it to, say, just your computer, you’ll still have access. You just won’t have unlimited access, allowing you more time during the day to spend how you like.

March’s Digital Detox: Track Your Usage

The main problem with doomscrolling is that it’s just so doom and gloom! We feel bad when we do it. With those feelings, though, we don’t have much information to act on.


To give yourself more control of your digital detox, it helps to start tracking your time. With Android phones, for example, you can access the Digital Wellbeing section to see which apps you’re using most often, along with the amount of times you open your phone per day and notifications you receive. 


By tracking your usage, you can see where a digital detox will have the most impact.

April’s Digital Detox: Set Limits Per App

Given your professional and personal responsibilities, going cold turkey on your digital device may not be completely realistic. After all, your kids still need to get picked up after soccer practice.


If that’s the case, target your digital detox to specific apps that you find yourself gravitating towards. What if you did just 10 minutes of Twitter a day, or 20 minutes of email on your phone? Knowing you have a limit will also help to make your use of the apps more productive.

May’s Digital Detox: Unplugged Challenge Medals

Sometimes the best way to do a digital detox is to have a real-life challenge to accompany it. We designed our Unplugged challenge medals to help motivate you to spend less time on your screens and more time interacting with the world

PUT THE REAL LIFE IN IRLA


Sometimes you have to unplug to connect. Earn each of these IRLAs by getting your hands dirty, breathing in the fresh air, and leaving your phone behind. Unwind and rediscover the joys of creating, crafting, and communicating. Each moment away from your devices is a moment to see the world with fresh eyes, to take in the day, and make a choice for yourself.


Now let’s go exploring.

As you complete the challenges, you’ll unlock real-life medals you can earn. The challenges include hiking with friends, baking bread, completing puzzles, writing stories, and more. They make for great activities and adventures to do by yourself and with friends!

June’s Digital Detox: Turn Off Like Counts

In a sign that they recognize that social media may not be 100% healthy, services like Instagram allow you to turn off the number of likes that a post receives.


This can be a helpful way to go about your digital detox for a couple of reasons. For one, it may help curb the natural urge to open the app multiple times to see how your recently shared photo is performing. It can also reduce the negative feelings associated with someone else’s post receiving more attention than yours.


When you enjoy the photos and videos for what they are, you may find you have less of a need to check social media as often.

July’s Digital Detox: Make Social Media Boring 

The dopamine rush from social media comes with the fresh wave of new content. New notifications, new messages, and new posts from the people we follow. 


For this month, our focus is paring down on your social media. By making social media a little less social, you might find you have more time to spend actually socializing.


To do so, make an effort to unsubscribe to emails and unfollow the people you don’t actually need immediate updates from. You could even take it to another level and unfollow the people you don’t know personally – even if just for a month – and then follow again once the month is up (you may find you didn’t even miss their updates). 

August’s Digital Detox: One Tab Or One App At A Time

When using our computers, the tendency to open a thousand tabs is everywhere. Heck, we’re not helping you out with this article, which has included a number of links already (though ours are all useful!).


What those extra tabs serve to do is to keep you clicking and to keep you spending more time on your device. Similar to tabs on your computer, opening multiple apps on your phone can end up causing the same concern.


For this unplugging challenge, do your best to resist the allure of the click. Make a note (handwritten is best) of the app you would like to use or the site you would like to visit once you’ve finished with your current page, and then go ahead.

September’s Digital Detox: Socially Social Media Free

One digital detox idea that’s become popular is taking inspiration from the Shabbat, during which many Jewish observers don’t use electronic devices.


As Kelsey Osgood points out in her Wired article, doing a digital shabbat is harder than it seems. What works for a traditional Shabbat is that you have a community helping to reinforce the tradition. 


On the other hand, when you go social media free or device free, you can’t always count on everyone else doing the same. 


For this month’s digital detox, see if you can recruit a small group of friends to commit to keeping the same evening free of electronics each week. Plan to spend the time together (book club, anyone?), and you won’t be as tempted to give back into digital temptation.

October’s Digital Detox: Schedule Your Social

Have you ever caught yourself jumping from one social app to the next, then before you know it, you’re back on the first app again?


It could be that you’re following so many people that it’s necessary to keep making the rounds to stay current. Likely, though, you’re falling into the algorithm’s trickiest designs.


For this month, keep a pad of paper or some sticky notes handy. Before you go on, make a note of which app you’d like to use and what you’re hoping to check for. Even if it’s just to see the day’s updates, this handwritten reminder will keep you from mindlessly returning to it again and again.

November’s Digital Detox: Go Gray

Often the tools we need to do a digital detox are just under our noses. While certain 3rd-party apps help us with time and focus and restrictions, our iPhones and Androids have what we need already.


For this digital detox, we’re going to remove the vibrancy of our screens and go grayscale.


To do so on iPhones, head to Settings -> Accessibility -> Vision -> Display -> Color Filters, then toggle Grayscale.


To do so on Android phones, head to Settings -> Accessibility -> Display -> Text and Display -> then under Color Correction, click Grayscale.


By taking away the bright colors of our friends’ photos and eye-catching apps, we can return our phone to the tool that it is.

December’s Digital Detox: Do A Hard Reset

If you’ve made it through to December, you may be ready to take your digital detox to another level. To do so, we recommend doing a hard reset for your digital devices. Restore them to the manufacturer setting. Then, when your device has been wiped clean (you can and should backup your important data!), wait a day or two before installing any new apps.


Because while turning off notifications or deleting an app or two might help you cut down on some screen time, it’s hard to completely Marie Kondo our whole device. With this method, you’ll have to consciously choose which apps you need to install again, meaning you’ll steer clear of the less essential ones that end up being a drain on your time.

PUT THE REAL LIFE IN IRLA


Sometimes you have to unplug to connect. Earn each of these IRLAs by getting your hands dirty, breathing in the fresh air, and leaving your phone behind. Unwind and rediscover the joys of creating, crafting, and communicating. Each moment away from your devices is a moment to see the world with fresh eyes, to take in the day, and make a choice for yourself.


Now let’s go exploring.

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