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How to Switch off: The New Rules of Screentime in Lockdown

While it’s important to stay connected, juggling work and distractions such as Instagram should not be another thing to worry about

There’s a new Sunday scary to contend with in lockdown: when your iPhone sends you a notification with your screentime use during the week.

Whether it’s constantly checking the BBC News app or nightly Zoom quizzes with friends, we’re all relying a lot more on our phones to stay connected.

But spending too much time looking at screens isn’t good for us. Here’s how to manage your screen time during the lockdown.

Separate work and play. Set some digital routines. If you don’t need to use your smartphone for work, leave it in another room, suggests digital detox expert and host of the It’s Complicated podcast Tanya Goodin​. “Make your laptop a work device and your smartphone a play one: your smartphone goes away when you’re trying to focus and your laptop goes away at the end of the working day,” says Goodin.

Apps such as Freedom can be helpful, it works across your devices and you can block access to specific sites, such as Instagram, during set times to stop you getting distracted (freedom.to)

Swap FaceTime for call time. Feel like you’re not getting any work done because of constant Zoom calls? You’re not alone. The platform has surged from 10 million customers to 200 million in the past few months. But Zoom isn’t the only way to keep engaged with work friends.

“There’s so much more we can get out of an audio call: you can really focus on someone’s tone of voice and how they sound, much better than shouting at their image on a screen with 10 other people,” says Goodin.

We’re all still adjusting to these new ways of living and it’s important that screen time doesn’t become another thing to worry about. This is particularly important for parents who will be balancing work and home-schooling with children, so go with the flow says Goodin.

“If at the end of any one day, all the online lessons haven’t happened and all the Zoom calls with work haven’t been seamless, we’re going to have to cut ourselves a lot of slack.”

Find an offline activity everyone can enjoy, whether it’s baking bread, doing a puzzle or listening to a podcast.