A life without a smartphone? In fact, this is no longer possible. Whether you want to book a table at a restaurant, make a date with a friend or do some banking: you probably need your phone to do it.
At the same time, this smartphone is full of tricks that motivate you to spend as much time as possible using it. Many people would like to reduce their smartphone use, but how do you navigate between the necessary and the unwanted?
The first step is awareness. When you know how much time you actually spend on your smartphone and why, you can adjust your habits. One of the options to find out is a special application. It sounds contradictory: downloading an app to do something about your smartphone habits that are spiraling out of control, but so-called focus apps can definitely come in handy. You have to practice better behavior – and that’s exactly what’s easier if the program gives you a helping hand.
After a deep breath, you start to wonder why you actually want to use this app
Most decent and reliable apps in this segment cost money, often in the form of a subscription. There are also free apps, but they bombard you with ads. So it makes sense to first check what you already have “free”: the settings of your iPhone or Android smartphone. You can easily see how much time you spend in front of the screen, which in any case helps you determine your smartphone habits.
On an Android phone, you’ll find these options under Digital Wellbeing in Settings, on iOS, these functions are simply under Screen Time. With both, you can see how much time you spend on your smartphone and which apps you use the most.
In the same place, you can set, for example, that you can only use certain applications for so many hours a day. In iOS, you can set a period of time as “downtime” – you can not use the smartphone at all, except for incoming calls and messages from contacts who are in the allowed list. With App Limits, you can define when you can use certain apps and when you can’t. You don’t have a free time mode on Android, but you can limit the amount of time you can spend on certain websites and apps.
If you want a more detailed view of your app usage and more control over exactly how you interact with it, there are Screen Time apps. Norwegian Refugee Council Try twelve. We choose four of them, which offer a limited free version with ads. If you want to access all the possibilities, you will have to get a subscription.
Anyone who opens AntiSocial (Android) is immediately presented with the full curve of their smartphone behavior. Hello confrontation! Especially when the app compares your behavior with that of others. After a few days of use, the app also knows how to put your nose to the realities of your “smartphone dependence rate”: how much are you glued to your smartphone more than others?
Fortunately, AntiSocial also offers solace with advice, like that you shouldn’t use your smartphone for the first or last thirty minutes of your day. The phone stimulates your brain so much that you start your day anxiously or can’t sleep well because of the pumping in your head.
The great thing about this app is that it offers a complete package for the addict – provided you get a subscription. Because once you are aware of your behavior, you will also get the option to do something about it. Via AntiSocial, it finds your most used apps, at least your most used apps that you could really do without more – and puts them in the block list. This does not mean that these applications were immediately banned. This is what the last screen, Block Mode, is for. You can indicate here that you can only use the apps on your list for a certain number of minutes per day, or not at certain times. Then AntiSocial enforces it—cruelly, by blocking your access to apps.
Like AntiSocial, YourHour (Android) is primarily a screen time app (rather clumsy design), which also offers a few other functions. The app tracks the amount of time you spend on individual apps, and gives you a chance to set a limit. If you click on another app, YourHour tracks how long you’ve been on it in a small bar.
Nothing new under the sun until then. Unlike AntiSocial, YourHour tries to change your behavior in a more playful way. He recommends “Challenges”. This can be as simple as “don’t use WhatsApp for more than twenty minutes”, to as extreme as not touching your phone at all for four hours. are you wrong Then the application will notify you that you are “lost”.
3 One second
Do you prefer a softer approach? The idea behind One Second is simple: if you open an app like Instagram, first you have to wait a few seconds. Only then will you have the opportunity to actually proceed.
The moment you do something that makes you happy, your brain produces dopamine. The so-called “happy hormone” makes you feel good. But the amount of dopamine is usually higher when you expect to be rewarded than when you actually get the reward. Through this process, we become addicted to our schedules, because something interesting can come up at any time.
A second is trying to disrupt that connection between dopamine production and an app like TikTok or Instagram. This works in secret: after that deep breath, you start to wonder why you actually want to use this app. Have you decided you have a good reason after all? Then the app will not hold you back anymore. One Second is available for both iOS and Android.
Read also: Is your smartphone taking longer than you’d like? The NRC gives ten tips for slimming down
4 Anti-procrastination detox in Focus lock
Have you tried everything and still can’t put your smartphone down? Then, blocking is the last resort. With a simple app, such as Detox Procrastination Blocker (Android) or Focus Lock (iOS), you can indicate that you no longer want to use your smartphone for a certain number of seconds, minutes, or hours. Then the app locks your phone.
Do you want to use your smartphone again? It’s a shame, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Detox makes your screen hostage. No matter what you try, you will only see the application screen. You can only escape if you completely turn the phone off and on.
And that can be very useful sometimes. Because if you really want to train yourself to make it through the empty hours without a smartphone, you also have to eliminate temptation. Thanks to Detox you can do that without throwing your smartphone in a safe.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper on August 15, 2023.
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