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Tech Guide

How to declare independence from technology

Key Points
  • CNBC's Todd Haselton recaps guides that will help you take a break from technology or limit how much you're using it.
  • We'll teach you to find out how often you're using your phone, how to manage notifications, how to set an out of office email from your iPhone and more.
Young man riding a bike, freehand
Getty |  Westend61

I've always found summer to be a good time to step away from technology for a little bit. As often as I can, and I'll do it this week to celebrate the Fourth of July, I'll put down my phone for a few days and leave technology behind while I head to the beach.

You can use this week to declare your own independence, too, and take a break from technology. I've written a lot of guides over the last year that can help you do this. Sometimes it's as easy as leaving your phone behind, but you might also want to do a check-up on your technology use. Here's what you can do, and what some companies are doing, to help you declare independence from technology.

Stop Google from tracking everything you do online


Google recently updated its privacy settings and it now gives you more control over the data you share with Google. Here's my guide to stop Google from tracking what you do online, including tracking your location, controlling personalized ads and more. To get a closer look at what Google knows about you, try downloading a copy of everything Google knows about you, too.

Stop your iPhone from bugging you while you're driving

Use Do Not Disturb mode
Todd Haselton | CNBC

You can always use hands-free mode in the car, sure, but I've also found driving is a nice time to take a break from the constant bombardment of notifications, too. You can stop your iPhone from alerting you to incoming calls and text messages while you drive. Doing this can help you avoid the temptation to check your phone.

Deactivate your Facebook account

Tap the General tab at the top of the screen
Todd Haselton | CNBC

You can deactivate your Facebook account if, like I have, you find yourself getting fed-up with the content, or if you just want to regain control of your privacy. It only takes a few seconds, and you won't lose everything if you simply deactivate your account. If you want to go a step further, you can follow my guide to deleting your Facebook account completely, too.

Use new controls to limit how often you stare at your phone

All of the ways Apple is helping us put our phones down

Apple's new iOS 12 software, which is coming to iPhone and iPad this year, as well as Google's new Android P update, will give you new tools that will show you how long you use specific apps each day. You'll also be able to set limits on how long you use apps, like Instagram or Snapchat. Install Apple's iOS 12 public preview to try its new Screen Time function to try it now. Google's update will roll out slowly beginning this fall.

Keep a phone schedule and remove distracting apps

How to stop using your smartphone so much

If you don't want to install the beta of iOS 12 yet, my colleague Jillian D'Onfro recently wrote a guide on how to cut down on smartphone addiction using tools that are already available. It includes limiting specific notifications, keeping a schedule and removing distracting apps. Here's D'Onfro's guide to how you can learn to put your smartphone down more often and here's how to stop your iPhone from driving you crazy with interruptions.

Turn off notifications from people who text you too much

Turn off the Notifications toggle switch
Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you're not ready to completely turn off your iPhone notifications, you can start by limiting alerts from certain apps, or even specific people. You may want to try turning off text message alerts from specific people in your address book, like those who text you too much.

Save articles to read later... and get back to the beach

Pocket is my favorite app for iPhone and Android for saving articles.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you're on vacation this week and happen to get an email or text message telling you to read a news story, you might want to just save it for next week instead of staring at your screen. Check out my guide on how to save articles for reading later and then head back to the beach.

Set an out of office message from your iPhone

Turn on Automatic Reply
Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you're heading on vacation this week and forgot to set an out of message response on your work email, you can do that right from your iPhone. So long as you already have your work email already going, you can follow my guide to setting an out of office message from your iPhone and forget about digging out your work laptop.

See how long you're using your iPhone each day

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Apple's new iOS 12 operating system will show you how many times you pick up your iPhone and how long you use it each day. If you can't wait until the fall when it rolls out -- or if you don't want to install the iOS 12 public preview -- you can install an app that shows you how much time you spend on your iPhone.