How I Lose My Day to Screen Time
My day follows a similar pattern. I wake up and pray for the Liturgy of the Hours. After dropping the boys off at school, I will pray the Rosary at church or during my commute. I seem to be on track prayer-wise until about 9 a.m. when I start work. And then my prayer for the day drops off completely aside from saying grace before eating.
There are many reasons why my spiritual routine takes a hit. To start, I have to focus on my work throughout the day and parenting in the evening. There is also the need to relax and take breaks. This usually takes the form of taking out my phone and reading my RSS feeds or playing a quick game. In the evening, when the house is quiet once again, I treat myself to streaming videos. To summarize, my phone with all its apps distracts me. Part of it is the intentionally addictive nature of apps but much of the blame falls on me for seeking these distractions in the first place.
10 Ways to Break Your Phone Addiction
On Catholic Exchange, Teresa Mull wrote an article about detaching yourself from your phone. She suggests making these habits part of your routine:
- Designate phoneless areas of your home and commit to phoneless activities: walking in nature, going to the gym (you’ll make more friends without your earbuds!), dinnertime, sitting in waiting rooms, and so on.
- If your phone causes you to sin, cut it off: leave it at home, in your purse, whatever.
- Consider significantly reducing your social media usage or getting rid of social media all together.
- Limit your consumption of news to an hour a day. Find one news program to watch, or one newspaper to read, or one podcast to listen to, and leave it at that.
- Wear a watch. If you’re like me, you use your phone as a timepiece, but checking it can lead to reading emails and texts.
- If you like to unwind by perusing social media, website, etc., set a timer and discipline yourself. It’s far too easy to be carried away and waste time on these platforms.
Her list is a good start but I think we can expand it. Here are some of the ways I’m replacing screen time with prayer time.
- No email or apps in the morning until prayers are completed. That may be the Liturgy of the Hours, reading Scripture, praying the Rosary, etc. The only exception is if those prayers are on an app on the phone. In that case, I have to exhibit some discipline.
- Designate a certain amount of quiet time each day. Try 10 minutes of no phone, TV, books, music, etc. Just let your mind wander or pray.
- I have a “TODO” list. Before watching any videos in the evening, I need to make progress on something on my list. For example, I need to spend time writing this article before watching “20 Amazing Gadgets that Will Blow You Away” on YouTube.
- I need to leave room for nightly prayers before going to sleep. That’s the last thing I do before falling asleep.
Using the Rosary to Break Addictions
What is a good Rosary mystery for breaking addictions? A phone or gadget often goes from being a tool to a vice. That’s where the Second Sorrowful Mystery comes in. The fruit of that mystery is mortification. The Latin root of that word is “death.” Mortification is the practice of putting our sins and vices to death. Through self-denial, we allow those things that separate us from God to “die” in our souls so that God’s grace will grow.
In the context of the Scourging at the Pillar, mortification can be seen as a way to unite our sufferings with those of Christ. Jesus endured immense physical pain and humiliation during his scourging, yet he did not resist or retaliate. Instead, he accepted his suffering with humility and love, offering it up to God for the salvation of humanity. By practicing mortification in our own lives, we can learn to imitate Christ’s example of selflessness and grow in holiness.
If your phone causes you to sin or pray less, ask Mary through the Rosary for the strength to break your phone’s addictive spell. It’s time we all start spending more time with God and less on TikTok. Your mental, physical, and spiritual health will thank you.