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Senior Tech Corner: Limiting Distractions from Your Smartphone (Part 1)

These days, many people worry that we’re spending too much time staring at the tiny screens of our smartphones. There’s no doubt that too much screen time can disrupt sleep patterns, distract from important tasks, and take up valuable time we could be using productively or spending with loved ones. A growing number of experts are even using the word “addicted” to describe our relationship with our smartphones. In light of these concerns, we thought that our readers might like some everyday tips for limiting screen time & embracing the here-and-now:

Make time of the essence.

Set times during your daily routine to take breaks from your smartphone, and reduce the time you spend on your phone a little bit every day. iOS (the iPhone’s operating system) has a built-in app (Screen Time, found in Settings) that monitors your usage and tells you how much time you’ve spent on your phone. You can even set time limits that will help you hold yourself accountable. Android phones have similar downloadable apps.

One helpful tip is to intentionally put time between receiving a notification (hearing a ding or feeling a vibration) and checking your phone. Behavioral experts claim that doing this deliberately can help weaken the expectation of (& craving for) immediate gratification that smartphones encourage.

Get rid of non-urgent notifications.

If you use an iPhone, head into your Settings app, tap “Notifications,” and manually turn off notifications for anything that can wait—Instagram, Podcasts, Facebook—probably the vast majority of apps on your phone. Android phones differ from each other more than iPhones, but with the newer ones, you can do this by going to Settings > Sound and Notification > App Notifications, tapping the app you want to stop, & tapping the toggle for “Block.” In addition to keeping your attention on the present, having fewer notifications will also help your phone preserve battery life.

Go gray(scale).

The colorful screen and eye-catching icons on your smartphone constantly challenge your ability to focus on anything other than your screen. Some people have resorted to changing their phone’s screen to grayscale, claiming that it keeps them from using it more than they need to. It can also be easier on the eyes at night and help you get a good night’s sleep.

  • To set an iPhone to grayscale, go to Settings>General>Accessibility>Display Accommodations>Color Filters, then set the switch to the “on” position.
  • To create a shortcut for grayscale on an iPhone, go to Settings>General>Accessibility>Accessibility Shortcut, then select the options you want to appear when you click the home button (side button for iPhone X or newer) three times (one of which can be “Color Filters.”
  • Android phones differ from one another a bit when it comes to this function, but with most newer ones, you can go grayscale by enabling “Developer mode” (by tapping build number within Settings > About phone multiple times), going to Developer Options, then setting the Simulate Color Space option (under “Hardware Accelerated Rendering”) to “Monochromacy.” A quick Google search for “set Android to grayscale” can get you more detailed instructions on this, including screenshots/diagrams.

 

Be sure to come back next week for Part 2 this edition of Senior Tech Corner. If you’re interested in learning more about assisted living, independent living, memory care, or any of the many programs & activities we offer, please contact Corso Atlanta for more information. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for updates and to check back often for new blogs.