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How to develop a
healthy relationship
with your devices

It’s Not Just You


Game app developers are using the same techniques as slot machines to keep you coming back.

No matter the app, from Bejeweled Blitz to Snapchat to Pokemon Go, you are a player, a gambler.

Whether it’s a Friend Request notification to a Leveled Up win, a person’s brain—young or old, male or female—receives a hit of dopamine, the “feel-good drug.” That same burst of dopamine is released when you refresh your feed or pull the lever on a slot machine.

Do you crave the happiness or excitement you get from social media or games? You could be at-risk for a dependency. Technology dependency can lead to increased risk of depression, anxiety, and long-term adverse effects. Fortunately, dependency and its effects can be helped.

An estimated $23 billion spent annually to make games, app, & devices more addicting


Dopamine is one of the “feel-good” chemicals in our brain. Chemically interacting with the pleasure and reward center of our brain, dopamine plays a vital role in how happy we feel.

social media icon
gambling icon

Social Media

Bright designs and red notification bubbles capture our attention and keep our focus on the app for as long as possible.

Social apps always make sure you have some notifications waiting for you, even if they aren’t significant.

Though social media apps are designed to connect you to others, you mostly use them when you’re alone.

Most social apps support infinite scrolling with no clear stopping points or cues to end your task.



Bright and flashing lights attract your attention so you keep playing indefinitely.

Machines never let you play for too long without getting some kind of win.

Slot machines are played by one person, by themselves, so no one else is around to pull you away or distract you.

Machines also don’t allow breaks or stopping points that make it convenient to leave.

Signs of

  • Feeling distressed, anxious, or depressed when leaving their devices for a length of time
  • Using technology to avoid schoolwork, family time, stresses, or other obligations
  • Continuing to use technology even after experiencing cyberbullying
  • Feeling a constant need to check your phone

Take Control

Don’t Let Tech Take Over

Charging your phone away from your bed.

Try not to use your phone as an alarm clock.

Putting your phone away during meals.

Set a daily screen time limit for specific apps.

Set a daily alert to tell you how much time you are using your phone.

Turn off social media notifications.

Set up phone-free periods every day. (ie. right after you come home from school or work)

Remove apps from your phone that are accessible through a computer.

Move social media apps to the last homepage screen on your phone and keep utility apps such as weather and maps on the first homepage screen.

Tools to Track Your Time

iMac with time tracking software on screen

All Platforms

Rescue Time

Download software like RescueTime to keep track of where your time is going across all platforms.

Learn More

Laptop with the Chrome browser open


Focus 45

Try this Chrome browser extension to keep you distraction-free for 45 minutes.

Learn More

Forest app screen



This iPhone app challenges you to build. The less time you use your phone for social media and games, the larger your plant grows.

Learn More

Screentime app screen


Screen Time

Learn more about the built-in iPhone tool, Screen Time, to limit your time spent on individual apps.

Learn More

Flipd app screen

iOS & Android


This app keeps you motivated with day streaks, daily goals, and leaderboards. The Wellness Hub provides music to keep you focused, calm, and mindful.

Learn More

Moment app screen

iOS & Android


This app utilizes a setting to force you off your phone when you try to extend your screen time. For your family, you can track their device use through the app.

Learn More

45% of teens check their phone every hour
9 Hours, the average amount of time teens spend in front of the screen every day
6 out of 10 people wish their family members would unplug from technology more often
Tech-free list, 101 things to do

Digital Detox
101 Tech-Free List

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Parent Resources

As a parent, you can make a significant impact on your family’s digital usage. Find more information on creating a positive technology balance and developing healthy media habits with helpful resources.

Common Sense Media link icon
Brain Hacking link icon
The Child Mind Institute link icon

Download Flyer link icon

Smiling young woman


Resources for Teens

Creating a beneficial relationship with tech, especially as a developing teen, can be difficult. Find resources to support you with information from signs of addiction to digital detoxes.

It’s Time to Log Off link icon
Phones Are Designed to Be Addicting link icon
Very Well Mind link icon

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