Tips from Netsafe to manage your online time

How much time is too much time online? If you feel like the time you’re spending online is making you feel unhappy or having a negative impact on other parts of your life then it might be worth looking at some ways to cut down.


If you look at the news you’ll see that there’s a lot of people talking about the negative effects of spending time online. But is spending time looking at a screen always bad? Research shows that for many young people spending some time online connecting with friends or doing creative tasks can be really positive. The problem comes when your online habits go too far and start to have an impact on the rest of your life. Here are some things that might be worth thinking about if you’re trying to work out what works for you:

  • How are you spending your time online? Lots of online activities can be really positive and help you develop new skills, connect with friends or develop critical thinking. How would you summarise the main ways you are spending time online?

  • Is the time you’re spending online affecting other parts of your life? If your online time is cutting into time you spend with family or friends, making you lose sleep or making it hard to study then it might be worth looking at ways to manage it.

  • How do you feel after you’ve spent time online? If you feel good and positive then that’s a good sign, but if you’re coming away feeling upset, frustrated, bored or irritated then this could signal it might be a good idea to cut down.


1. Make a timetable for time spent online

It’s easy to lose track of how much time you’re spending online. Lots of online games, apps and platforms are designed to keep you engaged for as long as possible. To help counter this, an idea might be to set up a schedule of time that you want to spend online. You could consider setting up alarms or other ways of keeping track of how long you’ve been online for and to let you know when it’s time to take a break.

Some social media platforms have tools to help you keep track of how much time you’re spending online and allow you to set up an alarm to notify you once you’ve spent a certain amount of time online. On Facebook, this is under “Settings & Privacy” and then select “Your time on Facebook”. For Instagram, go to “Settings” and then select “Your activity”.

2. Change your device settings

The devices and apps that you use have been created to be as engaging as possible. Even when you have put your phone down, alerts and notifications have been designed to encourage you to pick it back up again and keep scrolling. The good news is that many of these settings can be changed to stop you from getting sucked in to checking your device constantly. Some ideas of settings you could change include – turning off push notifications, changing your screen to greyscale mode, take distracting apps off the front page of your home screen and consider downloading a screen time monitoring app that let’s you know when you’ve been online for too long.

3. Stop feeling pressured to respond to people

Are you feeling pressured to respond to private messages or comments you’re tagged in all the time? Busy group chats especially can start to seem like a part time job to keep up with! Life gets busy and sometimes people just don’t have the time to respond straight away – and sometimes we just don’t feel like chatting. Responding in your own time is OK and a few “what did I miss” messages in the group chat aren’t going to hurt. You could also change your settings temporarily, so people can’t see when you’ve been active on an app. Try changing the “show activity status” in your Instagram settings or turn off “Active Status” in Facebook in settings.

4. Cut down with a friend

It can be hard to cut down on how much time you’re spending on your device on your own. Try talking to a friend about wanting to cut down on your screen time and see whether they’d be keen to cut down with you. It’s always easier to make a change when you’re not the only one doing it!

5. Leave your device outside your bedroom at night

Have you ever lost sleep because you’ve been sitting up until late checking your phone? One of the easiest ways to cut this habit is to buy an alarm clock and leave your phone outside your room when you’re sleeping at night.

6. Try out something new that isn’t online

Spending time online can be a great way to connect with people and develop new skills, but sometimes it can be nice to take a break and try out something new that doesn’t require you to be online. It could be teaching yourself a new skill such as drawing or playing an instrument, joining a sports team or even getting a new book out from your local library – anything that gives you a bit of a break from time spent online.

Source: Netsafe