Technology is nearly ubiquitous

It’s hard to deny, technology has some pretty amazing benefits on our lives. There’s health applications—from surgical techniques and medicine to research and rehabilitation. There’s lifestyle applications—yes, there’s a “smart” version of most everything nowadays. And there’s entertainment applications—any gamers present? That’s not even scratching the surface of the many other business, education, and communication-based technological applications constantly sprouting up.

But no doubt about it, it can sometimes feel as though the world is demanding you partake in technology. And that can be a drain on your time, energy, and well-being. So how do you enjoy tech benefits without becoming consumed by them? We’ve got five useful tips for keeping your lifestyle and technology use balanced. They’re like yoga for your tech habits.

1. Unplug yourself

The days of arguing over who’s going to answer the home phone are nearly over. The Pew Research Center says an astounding 95% of Americans now own a cell phone of some kind—and here’s the kicker—77% of those are smartphones. And those smartphone users check their phones an average of 52 times per day. That’s a lot of screen time. It’s debatable how much of that screen time is actually purposeful. For many of us, checking our phones is an ambient and nearly unconscious action.

So how do we limit our focus on the screen and move it back to the world around us? Apple may have a solution: Screen Time.

OK, the name might make it sound like Apple is encouraging you to spend more time on your phone, but this app actually helps limit your screen use. Screen Time lets you limit time spent on any app or website. You can even manage categories you want to limit (like entertainment), block certain content from your device (like purchase or download notifications), and set your phone to Downtime, which Apple describes as “a nap for your screen time.” Nifty.

And it’s not just Apple who’s making strides in screen time management. These other apps are here to help:

  • OurPact: This app is aimed at parental use, allowing parents to manage family screen time. Set a “screen time allowance” for your kids or manage your own device with this app.
  • Limitly: An app that controls other apps? Appception! Limitly encourages setting a time limit for those apps we all tend to overuse. You can even block apps entirely if you’re needing a more extended break from, say, the Twittersphere.
  • ScreenLimit: Another parent-targeted app, ScreenLimit helps you limit kids’ screen times with a twist: kids can earn extra screen time for doing chores, finishing homework, or just being kind.

2. Do sitting right

Many of us spend at least part of our day sitting and staring at a computer screen, phone, tablet, or TV. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this can be bad for our health. The World Health Organization lists sedentary lifestyles as one of the top ten leading causes of death and disability in the world. So how can we use screen-based technologies while reducing health consequences?

Posture, posture, posture

We can’t emphasize it enough—good posture is important. The next time you’re browsing the Internet, make an effort to sit up straight. When the vertebrae of your back are aligned, your body benefits. You could even take the type of chair you use into consideration. A chair that contributes to good posture while sitting for long periods during the day may be worth the investment.

Take time to stretch

If time spent sitting is the lock, then stretching is the key. Make it your mission to move around during your screen time. You can find specific stretches at Harvard Health Publishing’s website.

Take a break from the screen

Continually staring at screens can strain our vision and contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Breaking from the screen can be as simple as following the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look 20 feet or more away from your screen. If you want to up the ante, you could even take some time to step away from your computer for a few minutes every hour.

3. Lights out, phones down

Do your tech habits need a timeout? If you’re aimlessly browsing your phone in bed—let’s be honest, we’re all guilty—the answer might be yes. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults should get at least seven hours of sleep per night. As it turns out, the light emanating from your phone may be messing up your sleep goals. The Harvard Health Letter even says that nighttime light exposure may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Yikes. So 30 minutes before you hop into bed, set the phone aside—you’ll thank yourself later.

4. Binge responsibly

Nothing sums up our tech craze more than when Netflix tweeted “Sleep is my greatest enemy.” It’s safe to say, streaming has become mainstream. We can access more streaming platforms on more devices than ever. We all love entertainment, but can we agree that Netflix should not be sleep’s greatest enemy?

Audit the time you spend streaming. Set a goal to limit yourself. And if you must binge, binge more responsibly. Hint: consider using the Screen Time app. You got this.

5. Have mutual accountability

Working out is so much easier (and fun!) with an exercise buddy So why not find a friend, coworker, or family member to join you on your tech diet as well? More support equals more success. You’re far more likely to succeed in creating a healthy balance if you’ve got someone taking on the challenge by your side.

No one’s a bigger fan of technology than Maestro. But don’t forget, a tech diet doesn’t mean a tech fast—it just means using your technology in moderation and developing healthy habits.