Are you feeling neglected or disconnected from your partner due to their excessive phone usage?
You're definitely not alone. Many people struggle with phone overuse, and it's a difficult challenge for any individual to overcome.
However it can be especially challenging to address phone usage with a partner, as it can be a sensitive topic and may require a delicate approach.
When should you worry about your partner's screen time?
To minimize the detrimental effects of excessive screen time, studies suggest that you should aim to spend a maximum of 2 hours per day on harmful, entertainment-based screen time. Examples of this type of screen time include social media, emotionally charged news, emails, video games and binge watching tv.
If your partner does spend a lot more than 2 hours doing these every day, don't be alarmed! The average daily screen time is 7.04 hours in the US (although that's probably not all entertainment-based screen time).
Your partner has to find a balance that is right for them. It's also very difficult to go from spending 6 hours per day to 2 hours per day straight away. This process may take time.
Try not to worry, instead stay positive and think about the benefits your partner will see by spending less time on their phone: having more time for family, friends, work, fitness, meditation, personal growth and also less exposure to the negative psychological effects associated with phone overuse.
5 ways to help your partner reduce their screen time
Here are some tips to help address this issue in a healthy and effective way.
1. Communicate openly and honestly about your concerns
Explain how their phone usage is impacting you and the relationship. Try to avoid being accusatory or critical, and instead focus on expressing your own feelings and needs. During this process make sure you both voice your opinions and put yourself in your partner's shoes. Maybe there's a deeper reason behind excessive phone usage.
Also try to understand what kind of phone usage your partner really values. Perhaps there are some things that your partner already knows they should spend less time on. They may even be quietly looking for help already.
2. Set boundaries together
Discuss what is acceptable phone usage for both of you and come up with a plan for how to stick to these boundaries. For example, you might agree to no phones at the dinner table or to set aside a period of dedicated phone-free time each day.
3. Encourage alternative activities
Instead of focusing on phone usage, try to redirect your partner's attention to other activities that you can do together. This could be anything from going for a walk to cooking a meal together. You can also suggest activities for your partner to spend their spare time relaxing in a healthy way - such as reading books, journaling, listening to a podcast, or meditating.
4. Suggest tools and tips to make it easier
It can be very difficult trying to simply stay off your phone with willpower alone. That's because we have built up lots of habits around using our phones when we feel a certain way - especially when we're bored, tired, anxious or angry.
Luckily there are a bunch of tools and easy strategies both of you can employ to cut down on screen time. My favourite tips are:
- Limit notifications as much as possible
- Learn to use Do Not Disturb when you don't want to be distracted
- Keep off your phone for the first hour of the morning
We are biased, but if you and your partner are looking to cut down time on social media, the easiest way by far to do that in a non-obtrusive way is by downloading Unscroll. Unscroll makes your social feeds significantly less addictive so you can stay up to date but never lose control of the scroll.
5. Seek outside help
If all else fails and you are unable to resolve the issue on your own or you think your partner might have a real addiction to their phone, consider seeking the help of a therapist or counselor. They can provide a neutral perspective and offer guidance on how to effectively communicate and address the issue.
It's important to remember that phone usage is just one aspect of a relationship, and it's normal for there to be ups and downs in any relationship. By approaching the issue with patience and understanding, you can work together to find a solution that works for both of you.