In the beginning this year I used my iPhone to browse new titles on Amazon when I looked at the front page of "How to Break Up With Your Phone" by Catherine Price. I downloaded it on the Kindle because I really wanted to reduce the use of my smartphone, but also because I thought it would be fun to read a book about looking up with my smartphone on my smartphone (foolishly I know). Within a few chapters, however, I was motivated enough to download Moment, a screen time tracking app recommended by Price, and buy the book again.
Early in "How do you break up with the phone", Price invites its readers to take the Smartphone Compulsion Test, developed by David Greenfield, a psychiatrist professor at the University of Connecticut who also founded the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction. The test has 1
In the chapters of Price's book, the one called "Putting the Dope in Dopamine" is reasoned with me most. She writes that "phones and most apps are deliberately designed without stopping signals to alert us when we have had enough, and therefore it is so easy to accidentally binge. At a certain level we know that what we do makes us feel Brutal. But instead of stopping, our brain decides the solution is to seek out more dopamine. We check our phones again. And again. And again. "
Gross was just how I felt. I bought my first iPhone in 2011 (and owned an iPod Touch before that). That was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night. I would argue that it was because I wanted to check work processes, but really I was on autopilot. Thinking about what I could have achieved in the last eight years if I hadn't been stuck on my smartphone made me feel uneasy. I also wondered what it had done for the brain's feedback loop. Just as sugar changes your palate and makes you want more and more sweets to feel seated, I was worried that the incremental doses instantly satisfied my phone would diminish my ability to feel real joy and joy.
The price book was published in February, at the beginning of the year when it feels that technology companies finally started treating excessive screen time as a debt (or at least doing more than paying lip service to it). In addition to the introduction of Screen Time in iOS 12 and Android's digital wellness tools, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube launched all new features that allow users to track time spent on their websites and applications.
Early this year, influential activist investors who hold Apple shares were also called for the company to focus on how their entities affect children. In a letter to Apple, the hedge fund Jana Partners and California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) wrote "social media and applications where the iPhone and iPad are a primary gateway, usually designed to be as addictive and time consuming as many of their original creators has public recognition, adding that "it is both unrealistic and a poor long-term business strategy to ask parents to fight this battle alone."
The Growing Garden of Research
November, Penn State researchers released a major new study linking social media use of youth to depression led by psychologist Melissa Hunt, the experimental study monitored 143 students with iPhones from the university for three weeks, while undergraduates were divided into two groups: one was instructed to limit their time social media, including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, to just 10 minutes each app per day (their use was confirmed by no phone's iOS battery usage screens). The other group continued to use social media apps that they usually did. At the beginning of the study, a baseline was established with standard tests for depression, anxiety, social support and other problems, and each group was still assessed throughout the trial.
The results, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, were striking. The researchers wrote that "the limited user group showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression within three weeks compared to the control group."
Even the control group did benefit, despite not being given limits to their social media use. "Both groups showed a significant decrease in anxiety and fear of missing baselines, suggesting an advantage of increased self-control," the study said. "Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use for about 30 minutes a day can lead to significant improvement in well-being."
Other academic studies published this year added to the growing list of evidence that smartphones and mobile apps can significantly harm your mental and physical well-being.
A group of researchers from Princeton, Dartmouth, University of Texas at Austin and Stanford published a study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology that found the use of smartphones to take photos and videos of an experience actually reducing the ability to make memories of it. . Others warned against holding smartphones in your bedroom or desk while working. Optical chemistry researchers at the University of Toledo found that blue light from digital devices can cause molecular changes in your retina, potentially faster macular degeneration.
So over the last 12 months I have probably got great motivation to reduce my screen time. In fact, every time I checked the news on my phone, there seemed to be another headline about the dangers of using a smartphone. I started using Moment to track my total screen time and how it was shared between apps. I took two of Moment's in-app courses, "Phone Bootcamp" and "Bored and Brilliant." I also used the app to set a daily time limit, turned on "small reminders" or press alerts to tell you how much time you spent I spent on your phone so far during the day, and enabled the "Force Me Off When In Over ", which basically interferes with your phone when you go over your daily assignment.
First, I managed to cut my screen in half. I had thought that some of the benefits, such as a better range of attention mentioned in the book of the book, were too good to be true. But I found that concentration really improved significantly after just one week limiting the use of my smartphone. I read more long-form articles, caught up on some TV shows, and finished knitting a sweater for my toddler. Most important of all, I had the smooth feeling I had at the end of each day about deepening my whole time away, and then I lived happily after I was about to waste my life on memes, clickbait and makeup tutorials. 19659002] Just kidding.
After a few weeks, the screen time began to creep up again. First I switched off Moment's "Force Me Off" function, because my apartment didn't have a fixed phone, and I needed to be able to check texts from my husband. I kept the small reminders, but they became easier and easier to ignore. But even when I ruthlessly rolled through Instagram or Reddit, I felt the existentialist fear of knowing that I was abusing the best years of my life.
I wish I knew how to quit, little entity
I decided to talk to Tim Kendall's CEO, Tim Kendall, for some insight. Founded in 2014 by UI designer and iOS developer Kevin Holesh, Moment has recently launched an Android version as well. It's one of the best known of a genre that includes Forest, Freedom, Space, Off the Grid, AntiSocial and App Detox, all dedicated to reducing screen time (or at least encouraging more attentive smartphone use).
Kendall told me I'm not alone. Moment has 7 million users and "over the past four years you can see that average usage goes up every year," he says. By looking at general data, Moment's team can tell that tools and courses help people reduce screen time, but it often begins to creep up again. Fighting it with new features is one of the company's main goals for next year.
"We spend a lot of time investing in R&D to find out how to help people who fall into that category. They did Phone Bootcamp, so good results, so the benefits, but they just couldn't figure out how to can do it sustainably, says Kendall. Moment already resolves new courses regularly (recent topics include sleep, attention tension and family time), and recently began offering them on a subscription basis.
"It's habit-forming and persistent behavior change that is very difficult , "says Kendall, who previously held positions as Pinterest President and Facebook's Revenue Director. But he's optimistic." It's tight. People can do it. I think the rewards are very important. We do not stop with the courses. We explore many different ways to help people. "
As Jana Partners and CalSTRS mentioned in the letter, a particularly important issue is that the impact of excessive smartphone use on the first generation of teenagers and young adults has constant access to the devices. Kendall notes that teenage suicide rates have increased dramatically over the past two years. Although research has not explicitly linked time spent online to suicide, the connection between screen time and depression has been recorded many times already, as in the Penn State study.
But there is hope. Providing short, daily exercises to reduce the use of smartphones, seems to be particularly effective among the millennia, the generation most stereotypically associated with being pathologically linked to their phones. "It seems that 20 and 30 somethings have an easier time to internalize the coach thus reducing their use than 40 and 50 somethings, "he says.
Kendall emphasizes that the moment does not see s smartphone use as an all-or-nothing proposition. Instead, he believes that people should replace brain care, such as social media, with things like online language courses or meditation apps. "I really think the phone that is used intentionally is one of the most amazing things you have," he says.
I've been trying to limit most of my smartphone usage to apps like Kindle, but the best solution has been to find offline options to keep me distracted. For example, I've learned myself new knitting and crochet techniques, because I can't do it while holding my phone (even though I listen to podcasts and audio books). It also gives me a tactile way to measure the time I spend on my phone, because the hours I cut my screen time correlate with the number of rows I complete on a project. To limit my use to specific apps, I rely on iOS screen time. It is very easy to simply press "Ignor Limit", but therefore I continue to rely on several of Moment's features.
While several third-party video time tracking software developers have recently found themselves under several reviews by Apple, Kendall's launch of Screen Time has not significantly affected Moment's business or registrations. The launch of the Android version also opens up a significant new market (Android also allows Moment to add new features that are not possible on IOS, including just allowing access to certain applications at certain times).
Short-term impact of iOS Screen Time has "been neutral, but I think in the long run it will really help," says Kendall. "I think in the long run that it should contribute with consciousness. If I were to use a diet metaphor, I think Apple has built a great calorie counter and scale, but unfortunately they have not given people nutritional guidelines or a diet. If you talk to any behavioral economist , and does not tolerate everything that is said about quantified confidence, numbers do not really motivate people. "Guilting also does not work, at least not in the long run, so Moment tries to take" a compassionate voice, "he adds. "It is part of our brand and company and ethos. We do not think we will be very helpful if people feel condemned when using our product. They must be caring and supportive and know that the goal is not perfection; gradual change. "
Many smartphone users are probably in my situation: disturbed by their time shock statistics, dissatisfied with the time they throw away, but also find it difficult to quit their devices. We not only use our smartphones to distract ourselves or get a fast dopamine rate with social media. We use it to handle our workload, keep in touch with friends, plan our days, read books, look up recipes, and find fun places to go. I have often thought about buying a Yondr bag or asking my husband to hide my phone from me, but I know it won't help eventually.
As cheesy as it sounds, the impulse for change must come from within. No degree of academic research, screen time programs or analysis can do anything for it.
One thing I tell myself is that unless developers find more ways to force us to change our behavior or another major paradigm shift occurs in mobile communication, my relationship with my smartphone will move in cycles. Sometimes I will be happy with my use, so if I go away, I will take another snapshot or try another screen time program, and hopefully I'll be back on track. In 2018, the call around the screen time finally had a desperate need for urgency (and in the meantime I have actually carried out some knitting projects instead of just emptying myself through #knittersofinstagram).