'150 friends rule' could help you beat your smartphone addiction


Entrepreneur Tanya Goodin, author of OFF.
Your Digital Detox for a Better Life
, and founder of Time to Log Off, shares her digital wellness rules, starting from keeping  social media contacts to a maximum total of 150 rather having a network of hundreds or even thousands.

1. THE 150 RULE

Psychologists believe we can only comfortably maintain a network of about 150 stable relationships. Prune your connections on social media and delete anyone who isn’t adding any value to your life, or those whose feeds just make you feel a bit rubbish. Identify your personal 150-person team and use social media to enhance those real-world relationships, not substitute for them.

Studies show that those that passively scroll on social networks, never posting or commenting themselves, are actually less happy than those who actively engage in online communities. If you’ve got a social media account just to watch what everyone else is doing, delete it now.


Leaving a friends or family WhatsApp group can be a political minefield, but being in multiple message groups can eat up hours of your day – especially if other members of the group use them for stream of consciousness chatting all day long.

If you regularly come back to your phone to hundreds of unread group messages either set some firm ground rules for all the groups you’re in, or leave them.


Using the Marie Kondo Method  and regularly tidying up your smartphone is an essential step to using it more efficiently. Looking at a crowded  phone screen is like looking at a cluttered desk ; it drains your energy and lowers your motivation. Once a month go through your phone and delete any unused apps. Then set-up named folders to organize everything on your screen clearly. For example you can keep travel apps  separate from social media apps reducing the temptation to skip from one to another


Keeping your smartphone on you, while trying to exercise self-control to stop checking it, is a recipe for disaster. Designate a place at home and one at work to put it  away when you need to focus. One study has shown that even if face down and switched off the mere sight of our smartphones can seriously distract us and reduce our available IQ by 10 points. Just put it away.


Make it a rule that once you’ve exchanged a maximum of four messages without resolving something you terminate the text and talk face to face – or pick up the phone. Keep text for information, flirting and words of love, not haranguing and hectoring.


Humans respond really well to strong visual cues; that’s why software companies use banners, ticks and badges on apps. Make this work for you by setting a strong visual reminder on your home screen to put your phone down and go and do something else. If every time you pick it up you see a picture telling you that you really should be doing something else, eventually it will sink it.

Parents rules about technology use can weaken academic achievement, a new study finds

Parents are becoming more concerned by the negative effects of smartphones, social media and online gaming for their children. Excessive use can cause depression, lack of sleep and impulsive behavior in young people. For these reasons parents  set strict rules on how much time kids can spend in front of a screen.

However, according to a recent study by the University of Zurich, this could be detrimental to young people. Researcher Eszter Hargittai and her colleague Drew Ciongel wanted to know how such rules influence children’s academic performance when they are older.

The results are surprising: parents who restrict their children’s use of new media  may be acting unsuccessfully over a long period of time , particularly if they adduce homework time as the reason. Their children’s scholastic achievements at college lag behind the academic performance of same-age peers.

Researchers advise parents  to discuss proactively with their children and to spend time together using new technologies.

Child campaigners ask Zuckerberg to Stop Messenger Kids

An open letter and petition led by  the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) and MomsRising – urged Zuckerberg to use his “enormous reach and influence to promote children’s wellbeing” and scrap Messenger Kids.

“Please do not target kids. Research shows that excessive social media use is already harming adolescents and teens.Younger children are even less equipped to deal with the interpersonal challenges and addictive power of social media” the letter says  “Kids need time and space to experience the physical world and develop healthy face-to-face relationships.”

Among the 21,000 signatories are educators, health professionals, parents and caregivers. The campaign says that these are “people who see the impacts of technology and social media on children every day” and that they are “distressed about the impacts of technology and social media on the wellbeing of children and families”.