Switch Off and Become Healthy Online

No doubt you’ll be reading this on your phone, maybe even on ‘World No Phone Day’ where we’re supposed to be off our phones… Don’t worry, no judgement here! This is just simply a deep dive into what this day is all about and a few top tips on how you can get offline to maintain a healthy online presence. 

Why is there a day?

So what is World No Phone Day? Since 2001, February 6 was declared World Day without mobile phones by the French author Phil Marso. The purpose of the action is to fight against ‘nomophobia’, the irrational fear of being without a mobile phone.

It’s a day to challenge everyone to think about their online habits and look at whether they can go offline for a day. Whilst this is an excellent challenge and we should push ourselves to break patterns we’ve created, we don’t want you to only go offline for one day of the year. 

There are ways to keep control of your online practices every day to maintain a consistent, healthy habit throughout the whole year.

Here are my top tips to stay healthy online.

Turn off notifications & unnecessary apps…

According to Discovery Magazine, ‘people receive between around 60 and 80 daily notifications on average, and some of us may get as many as 20’. Research has shown that there is a link between phone notifications and depression or anxiety. Evidence suggests the constant tick, sound or vibration can slow us down in daily tasks and distract us when we need to focus. This can eventually make us feel anxious that we need to answer every notification.

Though it might seem that the best solution is to just silence this constant reminder, it doesn’t remove the notification through vibration. The most healthy way to combat notifications is to turn them off completely for apps which are not your primary means of communication (such as keeping notifications for texts, phone calls or Whatsapp).

By going to your settings and clicking ‘off’ for notifications on unnecessary apps, you reclaim control over your device. You get to choose when to look at your apps, rather than your phone choosing for you.

Set a daily screen time limit…

There are functions on almost every smartphone which enables you to limit your screen time. By using this function in your settings, you can limit how long you can spend on social media each day. The power is put into YOUR hands. 

Most experts suggest reducing screen time to less than two hours per day, not including work-related activities. Now I’m sure you read that sentence and like me thought to yourself ‘that is impossible!’. Well with your current practices and habits it may feel impossible, but it is possible to break a pattern or habit over time. The key is discipline, consistency and being loyal to the healthy choices you are making because you trust it will be better for you.

Recognise, be aware and admit your unhealthy online habits…

Now we all have unhealthy online habits. Smartphone technology is designed to be addictive for us to continue to use them constantly. According to the Netflix documentary, ‘The Social Dilemma’, industry experts who created the smartphone admitted they would not allow their children to use it. Tristan Harris, former Google design ethicist, explains it as a ‘Vegas slot machine’. ‘When we check our phones hoping that we have a notification, it’s like we are pulling the lever of a slot machine hoping we hit the jackpot’.

By being aware of how addictive our phones can be, you are halfway there to being healthy online. By choosing to be conscious of how much hold a phone has in your life, you have  already won part of the battle against technology taking over your life.

Be in community and keep each other accountable…

The best way to balance your online space is to be as engaged if not more, offline as well as online. Ensure you are in a community around you and within that community, help one another, talk about your online challenges and hold each other accountable in the choices you make. And celebrate your wins together! As you journey together in life and in community, it’s important to breed encouragement and acknowledge milestones however big or small you might define them.

As we reflect during this ‘World No Phone Day’, I hope we can encourage each other within our We Are Tearfund community to grow in knowledge, community, and to be as healthy as possible in our daily online habits. 

Let us know if you’ve incorporated these healthy habits in your life and if you’ve seen benefits to your choices online by sending us a DM @wearetearfund on Instagram!

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