Digital Cutback (again?)

Marc Cocchio
3 min readJun 11, 2024


Four years ago I wrote “An achievable digital cutback plan” after watching The Social Dilemma. Corona was both new and novel, and I had a newborn in my house. The plan looked like this:

1. No devices in bedroom.

2. One amazon order per month.

3. All notifications off.

4. Clean email inbox and ruthlessly auto-filter/unsubscribe.

5. Mass delete unused apps.

6. Use “digital wellbeing” tools.

7. I ain’t perfect.

Well, I revisited this with an additional in depth conversation with some close friends and family. Now with the added element and reality of a real life kid in the picture. So it isn’t just my own usage of my own device, but how that is observed and eventually how their own relationship with technology develops.

Firstly, how did I do?

  1. No devices in bedroom: I’ve been bad this past year. This has to change.
  2. One amazon (general online shopping) order per month. I was doing okay with this, but I gotta be even more strict.
  3. All notifications off. Except for calls from my wife, my phone is as silent as an excellent metaphor for something super quiet.
  4. Clean email inbox and ruthlessly auto-filter/unsubscribe. My inbox is sacred and spotless. Love it.
  5. Mass delete unused apps. I keep up with this. Good.
  6. Use “digital wellbeing” tools. Aw…. you got me. My “bedtime” black and white mode gets inevitably “paused” more than once. I had a few months success of limiting specific app time per day (android settings). I try to use forest when I’m working on a big project/course or something.
  7. You ain’t perfect. I can’t argue with this one.

A few new action items spawned from the aforementioned deep discussion:

With regards to devices/social media and my child, not to be a doomsday alarmist, but it is absolutely a topic of great importance to be considered carefully.

I want to build a little “phone jail” box for all devices/remotes, a visual cue of some kind of digital hygiene practice. “Look, we are all device free for dinner, and let’s play cards after” or something.

Turn off auto-play function on <insert streamer name>, so kiddo doesn’t endlessly watch shows if I get caught up in something.

Revisit the above “digital cutback plan,” which in my case means no phone in the bedroom, again.

Yep, wish me luck!

Oh, I recently read/listened to some Jonathan Haidt stuff, suggesting 4 new norms:

  • No smartphones before high school.
  • No social media before 16.
  • Phone-free schools.
  • More independence, free play and responsibility in the real world.

One of the coolest takeaways was related to the topic that many kids/teens admit that phoneless life is actually kind of a great upgrade, but nearly impossible when everyone else lives on their phone. Haidt said that if around 1/3 of your social circle has strict limitations on devices, that is enough for kids to no longer feels that must fit in with “everyone else.” So if you can convince 1/3 of your fellow parents to follow suit, that’s enough to make it much easier for everyone. Way less “screen time” arguments, late-night death-scrolling, pressures of social media, etc. We’ll see!



Marc Cocchio

Both a creative and critical thinker, I am a Python programmer, UX designer, and woodworker, based in Japan.