A simple hack to reduce your phone use

As a gen Xer, I remember occasionally watching black-and-white TVs back in the day.

B&W television always seemed boring to me. If the only available option was to watch TV in black and white, I’d usually opt to read a book instead. Losing the colors took away some of the excitement and appeal of watching TV.

I’m happy to report that the same philosophy works with your mobile phone.

I recently read about this cool trick on Instagram from a content creator I admire. Coach Will says that if you want to spend less time on your phone – or reduce mindless scrolling and impulsive clicking – the secret is to switch your phone to B&W mode.

Now, you might be thinking “Why would I want to spend less time on my phone?” And maybe that’s true if you’re someone who doesn’t have an issue with excessive screen time. Personally, I have found that I always stay on my phone longer than I intend to.

I might go to my phone to look something up, but then I stay longer to mindlessly scroll and click around. I waste untold minutes – heck, if I’m being honest, hours – on my phone when I could be getting up and starting my day or going to the gym, walking the dogs, reading a book, spending time outside, journaling, meditating or doing a myriad of other things.

I asked the question recently, “When did Z stop making slime?” and it took me a while to realize that the answer was right there in the palm of our hands.

Z stopped making slime when she got her own phone. She also stopped prolifically making art around that time (she still makes beautiful art, but not as much or as often). It makes me sad when I look back with that realization!

Maybe the answer is in this super cool phone hack from Coach Will. He says the bright colors of our phone screens grab our attention and spike our dopamine, keeping us hooked and scrolling.

Look at Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz – she thought the bright colors and excitement of Oz were swell until she realized how much she missed her home in dull, black-and-white Kansas. Could our phones be the same; are all those colors keeping us from where we truly want to be?

If you have an iPhone and you want to make it less attractive (dare I say, even less addictive) from time to time, I know from experience this hack can help:

  1. Go to iPhone Settings and scroll down to choose Accessibility
  2. Scroll down and choose Accessibility Shortcut
  3. Select Color Filters so that it has a blue checkmark beside it
  4. Now, anytime you want to get off your phone and get back to real life, you can simply tap your home button three times to turn everything black-and-white (it’s up to you if you want to also whisper “There’s no place like home”
  5. When you’re ready for full color again, simply tap your home button three times again and it’s back to full-color magic

What do you think – will you be using this B&W trick? Could the answer to reducing screen time be right here in simple black and white?

And what do you think my chances are for convincing my teenager this would be a cool feature to enable on her phone? It could actually make a funny prank if I could get my hands on her phone for a minute to set it up.

Wish me luck! And let me know if you have any other tricks for reducing screen time or making our phones less irresistible.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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