There are few messages more passive-aggressive than “John left the chat”.
As terrifying as we are to compose that awkward letter, we remain members of group chats long after we’ve had enough of the jokes, the memes, and the hundreds of notifications, preferring to mute and ghost than publicly to explain our exit.
WhatsApp has recognized this, and over the next month the messaging app will roll out new “privacy features,” including the option to leave a group silently, with only the admin receiving a notification.
It’s a welcome change considering how overwhelming the constant stream of information and alerts flowing through our devices can be, but there are plenty of simple hacks that can help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety. Here we round up 10 tips for a healthier and happier use of technology.
Monitor your screen time
Niall Watters is the director of DigitalWellbeing.iea consulting firm that runs educational workshops on tech habits and healthier ways of working.
The best way to change your habits is to track your screen time. Apple devices offer a weekly report and on Android you can find your Screen Time under Settings > Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls > Dashboard.
“It’s important to be clear about how much time you’re spending online, but also where you’re spending that time,” he says.
“I would encourage people to look into it [screen time report] because it gives you a minute-by-minute breakdown of the apps you’re spending that time in. Monitor this activity week by week and try to decrease it. Then look at the content you consume and try to optimize it.”
Sign out of social media apps
If you can’t stand deleting apps, Niall suggests opting out of those you want to whittle away your time after each use. “It means you have to re-enter those details every time you click in, so there’s less of a chance you’ll have to do that,” he says. “We found this act to be a fairly effective deterrent.”
Disable read receipts
Read receipts put pressure on us to write back, even though we may not have the time or energy to respond immediately. For less stressful messaging, you can turn off this feature on iPhone by going to Settings > Messages and unchecking Send read receipts.
On Android, it’s Settings > Chat Features, Text Messages, or Conversations > Read Receipts. You can also do this on WhatsApp by going to Settings > Account > Privacy and turning off read receipts, although this means you won’t be able to see read receipts from other people either.
Grayscale your phone
One of the most effective ways to reduce screen time is to switch your color settings to black and white.
The Center for Humane Technology notes that red is a “trigger color that immediately grabs our attention,” but by letting off color notifications, they lose much of their visual appeal.
In the iPhone settings, go to Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Color Filters and then turn on the switch where Grayscale shows as the first option. On Android, open Settings > Display > Color mode and select Grayscale.
Organize your home page
Melanie Boylan, owner and director of Stomp.ie Social media training, recommends arranging the home screen on your device so that you can quickly access your most important apps.
“We all have pages and pages of apps. I’ve moved all the apps I need for business to the front page so I don’t have to rummage around looking for notifications,” she says. “I take any ones I don’t use very often off the front page so I don’t feel overwhelmed every time I open my phone.”
To do this, long-press an app’s icon, and then drag it to where you want it.
Silence fraudulent callers
Scam calls are on the rise – Gardai reported a 370 per cent increase in fraudulent calls, texts and emails last year – but Apple and Android devices can detect and block scam calls. On iPhone go to Settings > Phone > Mute Unknown Callers and on Android go to Settings > Block Numbers > Block Unknown Callers.
It may not be suitable if you regularly receive calls from people outside of your saved contacts, but it will allow them to leave a voicemail and numbers you’ve previously texted or been given to you in an email not blocked.
Mute, block, report
You can mute specific words, hashtags, and users you want to see less of on Twitter in Settings > Privacy & Security > Mute & Block.
“You can block, you can mute and don’t forget, you can report people too. And it’s always private – no matter the social platform, they’ll never know you’ve reported anything [them]’ says Melanie.
“Some people hate Twitter because it’s all about fight and bite, but I never seem to find these threads because I don’t follow or participate in them. I think social media is what you make of it.”
Limit your Twitter mentions
Twitter recently introduced a feature called “unmentioning,” which allows users to opt out of conversations they no longer want to be notified about.
Click the three dots in the top corner of the tweets you’ve been tagged in and select “Leave this thread,” which will untag your account and prevent further mentions without notifying the members of the thread.
Máirín Murray, co-founder of TechforGoodDublin.org and Impact Innovator at Digital Doddle points out that you can change your photo tagging preferences under Settings > Privacy & Security > Audience & Tagging to allow only people you follow to tag you, or ban all photo tags . “It’s a really useful device,” she says.
Last year, Twitter also rolled out a feature that allows users to change who can reply to their tweets. “For example, if you don’t have time to reply or don’t want to engage in time-consuming conversations, you can limit [replies] to followers, everyone or just people you mention,” says Máirín.
Disable notifications on the desktop
Alerts can be particularly disruptive while working. “Social media creates unnecessary distractions,” says Máirín. “I deleted WhatsApp from my laptop because it was of no value.” You can also turn off desktop notifications: On Macs, you can turn off “Allow notifications” for news, podcasts, and more in System Preferences > Notifications & Focus.
Use the “Do Not Disturb” feature
Android and Apple devices offer customizable Do Not Disturb schedules that allow you to restrict notifications, calls, and notifications for specific periods of time. You can change these settings to allow calls from specific contacts or repeat callers via Settings > Focus on Apple or Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb on Android.
“Put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode for your concentration periods. It protects the time you have,” says Niall. “Research from the University of California, Irvine found that once distracted, it takes up to 23 minutes to regain focus.
“If you get distracted every few minutes, you can imagine the impact it has. The do not disturb feature works really well.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/10-simple-tech-hacks-to-reduce-stress-and-anxiety-41919400.html 10 simple tech hacks to reduce stress and anxiety