Healthy screens

Nudges to reduce phone use

Small changes to phone settings and habitual behaviours can reduce problematic smartphone use. We are currently testing the effectiveness of combining these strategies (Olson et al., preprint).


Reduce notifications

Disable non-essential notifications (sounds, banners, and vibrations).

Reducing the frequency of notifications can reduce stress (Fitz et al., 2019).

See how

Settings → Notifications

Settings → Apps & notifications → Notifications

Enable screen time tracking

Enable screen time tracking and set limits for particular apps.

Setting screen time limits for social media apps can reduce depression and loneliness (Hunt et al., 2018).

See how

Screen time tracking: Settings → Screen time → Turn On Screen Time (if disabled)

Screen time tracking: Settings → Digital wellbeing & parental controls → Manage your data → Enable “Daily device usage”

App limits: Settings → Digital wellbeing & parental controls → Dashboard → (Choose app) → Tap hourglass

Keep your phone away while sleeping

Keep your phone on silent (vibrate off) and out of reach when going to bed (e.g., in another room or on the opposite side of the room).

Avoiding smartphone use at night may improve sleep and quality of life (Hughes & Burke, 2018).

Change your display settings

Turn down your phone’s brightness, set it to greyscale (black and white), change the colour warmth to filter out blue light (i.e., turn on the “night shift” feature), and enable dark mode.

Greyscale can reduce screen time, problematic smartphone use, and anxiety (Holte et al., 2020, 2021). Reducing light before bed may improve sleep (Chang et al., 2014).

See how

Brightness: Settings → Display & brightness → Lower “Brightness”

Greyscale: Settings → Accessibility → Display & text size → Colour Filters → Enable “Colour filters” → Choose “Greyscale”

Night shift: Settings → Display & brightness → Night shift → Enable “Scheduled”

Dark mode: Settings → Display & brightness → Appearance: Choose “Dark”