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man on his phone in bed while checking his screen time on an Apple iPhone
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Can’t put your phone down? Here are tips to cut back on screen time

The more apps you have, the slower your phone runs and the more exposed you are to security risks. Tap or click here to run an app audit.

More apps lead to more time spent staring at our screens. Take a guess which country’s residents are most addicted to their phones? If you guessed the U.S., you’re wrong.

Where do we rank in the world?

The most serious screen addicts are South Africans, who spend 9.5 hours daily staring at phones and computers. The Japanese are at the other end of the spectrum, who have less than 4 hours of screen time daily. 

Americans fall somewhere above the middle at 7.5 hours, with almost 43% of our waking hours. 

A good chunk of our screen time is spent on mobile phones (21% of our day), and we can thank (or blame) Apple for revolutionizing portable internet with the iPhone. 

Check yourself

The average person is awake for 17 hours per day and spends over 6.5 hours on a screen. How much time do you spend doomscrolling and browsing social media? Take a deep breath and look now.

Before you can view your app and device usage, you need to turn on Screen Time.

Set up Screen Time on iPhone

  • Go to Settings Screen Time.
  • Tap Turn On Screen Time, then tap Continue.
  • Tap This is My iPhone if you’re setting up Screen Time for yourself on your iPhone. If you’re setting up Screen Time for your child (or family member), tap This is My Child’s iPhone.
  • To use Screen Time on all your Apple devices, scroll down, then turn on Share Across Devices.

After you turn on Screen Time, you can view a report of your device usage with information including how much time you spend using certain kinds of apps, how often you pick up your iPhone and other devices, what apps send you the most notifications and more.

  • Go to Settings Screen Time.
  • Tap See All Activity, then tap Week to see a summary of your weekly use, or tap Day to see a summary of your daily use.

Set up Digital Wellbeing on Android

Android has a feature called Digital Wellbeing that gives you screen time information. To find Digital Wellbeing as an app, open it in your Settings app and then turn on Show icon in the app list. You must set up your profile the first time you open Digital Wellbeing.

  • Open your phone’s Settings app.
  • Tap Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.
  • Under Your Digital Wellbeing tools, tap Show your data.

Health experts say we should limit our screen time to 2 hours or less per day, not counting work or schoolwork. This includes time spent watching TV and playing video games. 

Put down your phone

Research indicates that too much screen time changes how kids’ brains develop, and that’s a significant concern for parents. But it doesn’t only impact children. Too much screen time also affects your mood, sleeping patterns and eating habits.

Here are some tips to reduce screen time and enjoy more time outside and with friends and family.

Setting limits for app use on iOS

Need time away from your phone? You don’t need to lock it in a safe. Your iPhone has settings to reduce how much you use it while keeping it around in case you really need it:

  • Go to Settings > Screen Time, then tap Turn On Screen Time.
  • Select Continue on the next page and Tap This is my iPhone. (NOTE: There is an option to select This is My Child’s iPhone if you want to set it up on theirs.)
  • Tap Downtime, then slide the toggle next to Scheduled to the right to enable it. This turns on downtime for the time period you select. A downtime reminder will appear 5 minutes before it begins.
  • Select Every Day or Customize Days, then set the start and end times.

Only calls, messages and apps you allow during downtime are available. Evaluating screen time regularly will help you know when to set your limits. 

We get it. You probably need to access some apps for work or other important matters throughout the day. Fortunately, you’re able to set limits for app categories or individual apps in iOS:

  • Go to Settings > Screen Time > App Limits > Add Limit.
  • From here, select as many app categories as you want or get them all at once by selecting All Apps & Categories.
  • To select individual apps, tap a category to see all the apps in the category, then select the apps you want to limit.
  • Tap Next and set the time limit. Set an amount of time for each day by tapping Customize Days.
  • Tap Add when you’re finished.

You may also like: How to use the iPhone Sleep Mode — and why it’s better than Do Not Disturb

Limit apps on Android

Android’s Digital Wellbeing app lets you set app timers and schedule display changes. You can limit how much time you spend in individual apps:

  • Open your phone’s Settings app.
  • Tap Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.
  • Tap the chart.
  • Next to the app you want to limit, tap Set timer.
  • Choose how much time you can spend on that app. Then, tap Set.

You can set up notifications for individual apps as well:

  • Open your phone’s Settings app.
  • Tap Notifications > App settings.
  • Under Most recent, find apps that recently sent you notifications. Tap All apps to see more.
  • Tap the app you want to silence.
  • Turn the app’s notifications on or off.

Keep reading

Tech’s impact on our bodies

How to finally kick your social media scrolling habit

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