This Simple Trick Can Help You Use Your Phone A Little Bit Less

mom on phone feeding baby

Remember when cell phones were just ... phones? They made and received calls, had a voicemail box, and maybe told you the time. Then we got texting (and punching each number enough times to get the corresponding letter) and camera phones. It was a slippery slope after that, with smartphones becoming more and more advanced, and us becoming more and more addicted to them. We all know how important it is to limit your kid's screen time, but what about your own?

If you find yourself checking your phone first thing in the morning, or mindlessly scrolling through social media several times throughout the day, this simple trick can help you break your phone habit.

Every time we unlock our phone (just to quickly check an email or respond to a message, we tell ourselves) we're sucked in by some of the subtle tactics that tech companies use to keep you on that screen! Notifications are red, a color which triggers our attention. Pictures are bright and clear, apps are colorful and engaging. None of that is happenstance, it's designed that way for a very specific reason. Tech companies and app companies and social media platforms want you to keep clicking links and scrolling pages and playing their games.

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In order to make using your phone less appealing, change your display from color to black and white!

To change your display to black and white on your iPhone, go to Settings, then General, then Accessibility. Next, go to Display Accommodations, then Color Filters. Toggle the switch to On, and you'll see a list of filters. Click Grayscale, and voila! Your phone display is now in black and white. You can even set a shortcut in the Accessibility Menu, so you can easily switch from b/w to color (because you will want to switch back to color for some stuff).

mom daughter looking at phone
Credit: iStock / Jovanmandic

You're probably wondering what the point of going through all that is, and how it will help you break your phone habit. It's simple: you want your phone to be less interesting and appealing. Remember those little tactics we talked about? The colorful apps, the bright and engaging videos? By making your phone display black and white, you're taking away the aspects that make them visually appealing. If you don't see a RED notification, would you be more or less likely to open it?

Of course, changing your phone display isn't going to break you of your phone habit immediately and forever. But it's a small step you can take to get started. In addition to going b/w, try deleting distracting apps, turning off all notifications, and restricting access to certain apps by requiring a passcode. Obviously, you'll know the passcode, but that one extra step might make you reconsider if opening the app is worth it in that moment. Above all, commit to going phone-free for a day or two, or even an hour or two every day.

At this point in our lives, going completely tech-free would be almost impossible. But that doesn't mean it has to completely take over our lives.

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