How to Use Screen Time Mindfully

Here are four ways to reduce the negative impact of your digital devices.

A person shutting down her cellphone

1. Monotask

Be intentional and try to avoid multitasking on your devices. Go to your phone or laptop for one specific purpose, and when you’ve finished, leave the screen behind. Don’t hang around to check just one more thing. That’s how we get caught.

2. Manage Negativity Bias

Our brains are wired to attend to threats, and we can see it in the way we get hooked by bad news online. So, practice seeking out the things that make you feel a little better or more connected, and try to steer clear of stories that act as emotional triggers.

3. Linger Longer

Reduce the number of sites you visit and spend a little more time at carefully chosen ones instead. Give yourself five minutes to read something instead of 20 to 30 seconds. You’ll notice a real difference in your state of mind if you engage deeply rather than skipping from one thing to another.

4. Be a Role Model

If we don’t manage our own screen use, our kids will notice and copy us. We can create positive change in our health and relationships by starting with our own habits.

This originally appeared in “This Is Your Brain on Screens ” in the November 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

is an integrative psychiatrist and the author of The Chemistry of Joy, The Chemistry of Calm, and Staying Sharp. He is the cofounder of NaturalMentalHealth.com.

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