Spoiler alert: these tips are just as helpful for parents as they are for kids!

This post is all about practical tips and tricks that will make your smart phone less addictive. Check out our previous post for more on our philosophy and why this approach might be right for family.

Set Your Phone to Grayscale

If you need some convincing, here’s why it works:

“According to former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, who has founded the Center for Humane Technology, going grayscale removes positive reinforcements and dampens that urge to keep loading up social media feeds or mobile games. The idea is to make your phone less fun to use. Instagram becomes a river of drab grayness, web articles are bland to the point of being boring, and games lose all their visual appeal” (Wired Magazine 2019). 

It’s just simply not as amusing to open up an app or scroll through pics when the shiny colors aren’t there. YouTube videos lose their allure, Instagram’s not as glamorous.

Turn Off All Notifications, Including Those for Texts

This puts you in charge of when you’re checking your phone instead of being at the beck and call of every alert. Banners, badges, alerts— turn them all off. This way, to check anything you must: 

Placing barriers between yourself and the constant barrage of communication helps put you back in control.

Take Email Off Your Phone

Instead of checking email all the livelong day, and being at the whim of everyone who might need to get a hold of you for an “urgent” request, set an established time to check and respond to email. 

This won’t take as long as you think, and will save you from the constant pecking of email barrage. 

For example: I’ve removed email from my phone and only check it for an hour around noon, Monday through Friday. Having email only on your computer also eliminates accidental and unnecessary scrolling that occurs on the phone, not to mention the online shopping.

Delete Social Media Apps

Again, these can be checked entirely on your laptop. Instead of clicking and scrolling mindlessly through Instagram or Facebook, set aside time each week when you’ll catch up on these feeds. Say Saturday from 1-2pm. 

This eliminates the pull to check without thoughtful consideration. It also prevents the instant dopamine hits that come when we engage with these apps constantly.

Removing social media apps from your phone puts them back in their rightful place: a tool to engage with people you care about (not an app to suck mindless minutes out of your day.)

Removing social media apps from your phone puts them back in their rightful place

Some Great Dumb Phone Options

Maybe you’re reading through the above steps and feeling like, “Why do I even have a smartphone anymore?” Here are a couple of options to really go big. Or, if you’re wrestling with a teen who is certain he or she is the only child remaining in the world without a smartphone, these might be good options as well:

Head to your local Verizon or T-mobile store.

They do, in fact, sell phones without fruit on them. Go in and ask them to dig one out for you. Or, if you (or your teen) have a little more money to spend on your dumb phone, check out the:

Punkt phone

Their website describes this phone as,

“refreshingly down-to-earth. No app icons, animations, or special effects vying for your attention. The phone is without the internet, which makes it easy on the eye when you’re using it, and easy to put away when you’ve finished with it.”

It allows calls and texts, navigation, Bluetooth connection for your car, and features REAL buttons!  It also houses an alarm clock, reminders, and calendar features. All the things we actually need on a phone with none of the extras. 

Light Phone II

Their slogan is “designed to be used as little as possible.” Quite the contrast to the iPhone; their slogan might be “designed to hook you until you forget who you even are.” The Light Phone II is minimalist in design, allows texts and calls, navigation, calculator, and alarm clock features. 

The End of All These Means

Implementing tips and tricks like the ones above won’t do much good unless you’re crystal clear on the reasons why. These strategies are means to an end, not an end in themselves. What is the end? To love God and love others— while living in a world that uses a whole lot of tech. To that end, we hope these strategies equip you (and your kids) to fight the good fight.