Do you know how much time you spend on your smartphone in a day?  According to Ofcom, the average person in the UK spends 24 hours a week on their phone and checks it roughly every 12 minutes.  Do you think you spend more or less time than that on your phone? After the latest IOS update, iPhone users will be able to tell exactly how much time they spend on their phones and what they’ve been looking at.  More significantly – for me anyway as I’m always concerned for people’s wellbeing – they will also be able to restrict how much time they spend on their phone. Given that checking your phone, and particularly checking work emails, can lead to increased anxiety and stress, I think that’s good news.

What is Screen Time?

This is the name of the new iPhone feature which monitors how long you spend looking at your iPhone and what you have been doing while you’re there.  If you discover you’ve been spending far too long on your phone and it’s been either wasting too much time or stopping you being as productive as you’d like, you can use features to limit how much time you spend on certain apps. A feature called Downtime allows you to select certain times of the day when only certain apps or functions of your phone will be available.  Most people just allow the telephone and message functions to operate during these times but other people allow work emails too.  I really hope they only do that while at work!  For gaming and social media addicts, the App Limits option allows you to set a maximum period of time you are allowed to spend on these apps in a day.

Why I Think this Feature is Great

Although it’s younger people who are more likely to suffer from smartphone addiction and to suffer some really awful mental health problems – teens who spent the most amount of time on social media were most at risk of severe depression and suicide – adults are doing themselves harm by spending too much time checking their work emails.  A recent study by Virginia Tech showed that when people regularly check their work emails when they are not at work it increases their anxiety and can put stress on their relationships.  That’s why I think it’s a great idea to have a feature on your phone that can help you restrict how much time you spend on these things.

How to Reduce Screen Time Without Screen Time

Not everyone has an iPhone but, fortunately, there are other apps that let you monitor how long you spend on your phone for Android.  It’s not all about apps to help you stop using apps though.  Turning off notifications for apps you’ve got a habit of looking at too often is a good place to start including turning off notifications for your work emails when you aren’t at work.  Keep your phone somewhere where you can hear it ring but can’t see it and do not keep it by your bed at night.  Try to keep it out of the bedroom completely but, if you can’t, make sure it’s not within arms’ reach of the bed.

Seeing so many people so stressed and suffering from mental health problems really makes me sad so I hope people do find the most suitable ways for them to take a break from their technology and prioritise their mental wellbeing.