From digital detoxes to ditching smart phones for flip phones, some people are taking drastic measures to curb their digital habit. The constant connection can leave us feeling permanently “on,” but you can embrace technology and maintain your health – with moderation and these savvy tips:

  • Take control of your notifications. Most apps, including social media apps, allow users to enable or disable how and when users are notified of likes, new messages, snaps, etc. To stay focused and minimize distractions, keep instant notifications limited to only the essential updates you need to see on your phone’s home screen.
  • Avoid damage to your neck and spine caused by “text neck.” Text neck refers to spinal damage that occurs over time as a result of bending down and forward to look at our mobile devices. At a fully upright position, our neutral spine supports the head, which weighs about 12 pounds. As we bend down, this weight on our spine increases. According to the Washington Post and a forthcoming study in Surgery Technology International, “at a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.” Look down at your phone or tablet with your eyes. It is not always necessary to bend the neck in order to view your screen. Exercise your neck by turning from left to right. Using your hands, provide resistance and push your head against them – forward and then backward.
Online Habits
  • Use the new night mode feature in Apple’s iOS 10. “Night Shift,” as Apple calls it, helps your body prepare for sleep. When the night mode is activated – which you can set for a certain time each night – the screen’s usual brightness is dimmed and the light is yellow instead of blue. This is better for nighttime because the default bright, blue light simulates daylight, which confuses the brain and disrupts our sleep hormone, melatonin. Night Shift eliminates this harsh light so you can fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly.
  • Power down before bed. Even though features like Night Shift reduce the negative effects of our phones’ screens, turn off computers or mobile devices at least 30 minutes before bed. According to the Cleveland Clinic, being on our devices keeps our minds stimulated when we should be drifting toward a relaxed state, so power down!
  • Protect young eyes. Keep media use “very limited” for infants (two years and younger) and be mindful of the official guidelines for mobile device usage for children. Read the complete guidelines from healthychildren.org, a publication from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Most importantly, trust your body. If your eyes, neck or fingers ever hurt from prolonged device use, give yourself a break.