Tech

How to curb smartphone addiction

Deny it all you want, but smartphone addiction is real. 

So real in fact 46% of Americans say they can’t live without their mobile device, according to a Pew Research Centre report. 

We already know having your head stuck in your mobile device constantly isn’t healthy. 

Staring at a screen before bed affects sleep and approximately 63% of 18- to 29-year-olds are doing that nightly. 

Our attention spans are shorter now that we constantly have somewhere to wander off to when nothing else is engaging us. Even in cars stopping at red lights, people can’t just sit still and be; they pull out the phone to see what’s new in the past five minutes. 

Being always connected is stressful. People know you always have your phone with you so there’s no reason you can’t reply to an email immediately or respond right away to that Facebook message. 

It seems there should be a way to evolve away from this madness, and maybe that’s what Apple is attempting. 

Two new iPhone models were unveiled this season: iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and also iPhone X. But one more product was revealed that received slightly less fanfare: Apple Watch Series 3. 

Think about it. You reach for your phone because you just have to check your email real quick. But that turns into a quick browse through Facebook. Then you realise you haven’t checked your Instagram feed in the past hour. It turns into a long trip down the rabbit hole that was originally only supposed to take a few seconds. 

Apple decided to take part of the smartphone functions used every day and condense them into a smaller device. So the desire to browse is gone, but you’re still connected. Text messages still appear along with email and phone calls, but you won’t feel a pressing need to reply immediately. 

Retailing at US$329 (RM1,392), however, Apple Watch isn’t everyone’s answer to curbing smart device addiction. 

A new app called Breakfree will help you do it for free. 

Breakfree aims to cut down on screen time by calculating usage. 

It gives you an “addiction score” by monitoring how often throughout the day you unlock your phone and how many minutes you use the device. 

Another app called Moment works similarly. If you spend over three hours on your phone, the bar turns red. You can monitor your phone usage by day, and if you pay for a premium account, you can go through “Phone Bootcamp,” which teaches you to use your phone less. 

Developer Kevin Holesh created the app because he noticed he stopped doing fun, productive things. 

“We would sign off our work computers at 6pm and immediately wander into the living room and open up our iPhones. Bring on the distractions,” Holesh wrote in his blog. 

Surely over time more solutions will develop because too much of anything is harmful. 

If you’re addicted to being distracted, it might be time for a change. — Knoxville News-Sentinel/Tribune News Service