Dear Trish: Everyone says I spend way too much time on my phone. How much time is too much time?
First off, thank you for the fantastic question! Let me start by validating this concern. I can promise you that you’re definitely not alone in feeling like you spend a lot of time on your phone (or that other people think you do); in fact, this is probably one of the most #relatable questions we’ve covered thus far on Ask Trish. As I depicted in this week’s TikTok, I’ve definitely been guilty of spending a ton of time on my phone. The thing is — as I’m sure you know all too well — it’s just so easy to get lost on your phone. Anyone else ever look down at your phone, and then look up an hour later like #whoawhathappened? 🙋🏾♀️
Which may lead you to wonder: is it really a bad thing? There’s no one “right” answer to that question, per se, but I’d definitely lean towards “yup.” Too much screen time has been associated with everything from bad posture and chronic back pain (major yikes!) to even mental health concerns. Speaking personally, at the peak of my phone use, I was anxious any time I wasn’t on my phone. It was like my phone was an extension of me, and I couldn’t function without it. Any time I heard that ding, I simply could not ignore my phone; if I tried to, I’d just end up thinking about who it probably was…and then give up. All that’s to say: while I’m not a doctor, at least in my case, it was clear that all of that screen time was really unhealthy. And in speaking with a lot of friends, it’s become clear that that seems to be the case for most folks, with different side effects/results for different people.
And that brings us to your question: how much time is too much time? Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer to that question. Sorry; I know that’s not super satisfying — but the reality is that we all live very different lives, with our phones potentially playing a more central role in some cases than others. With that said, a good way to gauge if you, specifically, are spending too much time on your phone is to pay attention to the relationship between your phone and your body and mind. Do you feel anxious around your phone, like I did? Have you noticed your phone cutting into your sleep time? And do you ever feel mentally drained when you put your phone down? If you’ve had any one of those experiences (or others) repeatedly, it might be a sign that it’s time to reevaluate your #screentime.
Rethinking your screen time can actually be way easier than you think. My suggestion is to take a week and monitor how you and your phone interact. I know what you’re thinking: that’s weird, Trisha. But think about it: because your relationship with your phone likely usually operates in your subconscious, it can be hard to make behavioral changes if you don’t take the time to be consciously aware of what’s driving that relationship. In my case, I found that 1) my ringer being on and 2) texts from my friends were my kryptonite — so I started to turn my ringer off, and muted some of my text conversations, so I’d only see the texts later, when it was dedicated phone time. It might be that in your case, you’re “drawn in” by Insta notifications…in which case, maybe turn some of them off. Ultimately, these little changes, I’ve found, can make a huge difference. And if you need a little help, your phone can assist you! Both Apple and Android phones help summarize phone usage and offer tools to help you set limits around your screen time. So do individual apps, like Instagram.
Whether you thought this week’s TikTok was hilarious and want more #AskTrish content or are curious about another Internet-related issue, don’t forget to share your note, question, or thought here! (Your topic might be featured in an upcoming TikTok/blog post.) Remember, anything goes: if it’s a serious issue, know that this is a safe space to share whatever you’re feeling, and our Ask Trish community will always be here to support you 💙; equivalently, if it’s a more fun topic, we are all so here for it! Either way, I can’t wait to hear from you all. Last thing — if you see Ask Trish content you like, don’t forget to like and share! After all, as we’ve established in past posts: a larger “Ask Trish” community = more lit TikToks = more awesomeness.
I’ll see you all again next Tuesday! Until then,