Technology is super fun and engaging but our brains need a break to recharge and are not built for never-ending multi-tasking.  Here are some tips to help incorporate more tech breaks:

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Adults spend over

9 hours a day consuming media

(Common Sense Media 2016)

and about 1/4 of U.S. adults

(39% of those ages 18-29)

say they are 'almost

constantly' online

(Pew survey January 2018)



Find a New Bed Partner


If your phone is your security blanket, is the last thing you see at night and first thing you grab for in the morning, you may need a change.  This is precious time for your brain to wind down and recharge.  Try using an old school alarm clock instead of your cell.


Watch Yourself!


Call it retro, call it vintage, call it whatever you want, wearing a watch gives you one less reason to check your phone and to get drawn into a social media time-suck. Checking our phones for the time seems easy but how often is that all you check? Your grandma wore a watch. She was a smart lady. You can be too.


Make Your Home Screen a Calming Place


Use a serene wallpaper and keep the area you see most often a place for essential tools only (phone, text, camera, maps, etc). Move other apps to another screen or in a folder so it’s an extra step to access.  Also consider only getting notifications that come from humans.


Use a Flip ("Dumb") Phone


Need to stay connected but not always THAT connected?  Get a non-smart phone just for concerts, trips, or unplugged days. Enjoy your time away with peace of mind that you can be reached for

urgent situations.        


Charge Your Phone Away

From Your Bed


Take the night-time routine one step farther and try having your phone out of site.  You’ll have less interruptions and be less likely to look at it first thing when you wake. If you need to do this gradually, try putting your phone in your nightstand for a few nights first. Use the Do Not Disturb feature if you have it.


Have Screen Free Meals


Whether it’s on a date, with friends or your family, dinner is a good place for everyone to reconnect, enjoy a meal and get a tech break. Consider having a basket/box for phones so people aren’t tempted to check while at the table.  Play the cell stacking

game- First one to grab their phone pays the bill.


Reduce and Narrow Down Apps and Friend Lists


Do you really need to keep that Starbucks app you used once?  Got an annoying friend who really isn’t a friend? It’s time to clean up that list.  Get rid of the clutter on your phone and feel a little less distracted. You can always download apps if you need them.


Back in Black (and White) – Take Your Attention Back


Bright colors on apps are chosen specifically to get our attention.  Set it to grayscale, and the screen will have what you need but be a lot less appealing. 


Try Snail Mail


Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey and John Mayer have revived snail mail.  Skip the obligatory social media birthday posts and surprise someone with an old school, meaningful note.  Use pen and paper to make a real connection to real people.


Take an Unplugged Adventure


Get friends together and go on a hike, a picnic, try a trivia night or one of the new escape rooms.  Try a beach front yoga class.  Use your tech to find ways to unplug - check out sites like “Hidden San Diego” for cool ideas to explore outside.


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  • Delay introducing technology/use sparingly with young children – they will learn about tech in school and can catch up quickly.

  • Monitor children’s media – make sure what they are watching is age appropriate.

  • Watch together - Small screens are not conducive to co-watching, makes for a solitary experience.  Try making  movie nights or family TV times for a shared experience instead.

  • Turn off TV’s and other devices when not in use.

  • Keep bedrooms, mealtimes, and parent-child playtimes screen free.

  • Avoid exposure to devices or screens 1 hr before bedtime – brains need time to settle down.

  • Never threaten to take away tech without following through – it will be a bigger struggle next time.

  • Avoid using media as a pacifier and the only way to calm your child – they need other self-soothing techniques.  

  • Try not to always use screens as a reward or “carrot” – it adds too much value to devices and they don’t need any help…..they are already rewarding enough!

  • Don't give too many tech gifts at the holidays or for birthdays – adds more value to already exciting gadgets.  

  • Make sure parents (not the child) own tech devices – they get to earn the right to use it IF they follow your rules.

  • Develop a Family Media Use Plan for the family early on and revisit regularly -  The American Academy of Pediatrics and Healthy has an online Family Media Plan you can customize.

  • Have nights where you discuss current tech topics.  Sign up for Tech Talk Tuesday emails with Dr. Delaney Ruston who created the movie "Screenagers".  She provides topic ideas and makes it easy!  

  • Create a network of friends who can support reduced screen free times for playdates.

How to Set Your Phone to Grayscale

On Android phones (some models differ) - can be set up via the “Accessibility” menu.  

On Apple/ iOS 10 phones - can be set up via the “Settings” menu.


Go to Settings > General > Accessibility >Display Accommodations >Color Filters. Switch Color Filters on and select grayscale.

Want to set it up so you can go back and forth from gray to color?  It's easy!

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Color Filters. Whenever you want grayscale, press the home button three times. Triple-click again for color.  

Show your friends ~ congratulations you are now a tech wizard.

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