(Metro) We all use our phones in some way on a daily basis, whether it’s for the camera, to plan a journey or to keep connected with friends. It’s hard not to, especially when everything we could need is at the touch of a button.
But using the phone too much can have disastrous effects on mental health and your wellbeing.
For that reason, many of us could probably use a little bit of help disconnecting from our devices from time to time so we can focus on the more important things in our lives.
Google have come up with precisely that, a new Digital Wellbeing feature, that tracks your daily usage and allows you to place restrictions and prevent distraction.
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The feature, which can be found in Android 9 and all Google’s Pixel devices, is designed to help you be more responsible when you use mobile software and prevent distractions. It includes counters for how long you’ve been using certain apps while graphs and visuals breakdowns show how many times you unlock your phone per day and how many notifications you receive.
I tried the feature out on my new Google Pixel 3 by tracking my daily usage for a month to see if it helped to limit my usage.
In a nutshell, I use my phone a dangerous amount. I didn’t realize just how addicted I actually was until I analyzed the graph showing how long I spend on social media, what times I usually go on it and how often.
Apparently, I unlock my phone an average of 137 times daily, I click on Instagram at least 79 times in a day and use Whatsapp at least 130 times daily. Yes really.
I’m also averaging a minimum of four hours a day using my phone, with a large part of that spent on social media.
For my first week using the feature, I continued using my phone as normal. It was incredibly eye-opening – and a little terrifying – to discover I used my phone for an average of 4 hours 34 minutes daily.
Fortunately, it was some consolation discovering the feature tracks your usage even when you’re not physically using the phone, ie. on Whatsapp Web or listening to music in the background.
But, still, all that unlocking and checking your phone does add up!
According to the data, I mainly spend my time on WhatsApp, Phone, Duo (Google’s equivalent to Facetime), Netflix and Instagram.
My average usage on Whatsapp was 1 hour 17min in the week, while I spent an average of 35minutes on Instagram.
I also found that after keeping my phone on Flip to Ssh mode – which mutes all notifications just by turning the phone face down – for the seven days, it had the opposite effect to what I was expecting.
Turns out, I was getting major FOMO and so was checking my phone more often because I wasn’t getting alerts.
I quickly switched to keeping it silent while at work and back to normal as soon I finished. I also noticed that, interestingly, I turn to my phone when I’m bored, feeling lazy or even feeling down and stressed.
It acts as a comfort and a place to forget about reality for a few seconds – my tracker showed this as on a day where I was feeling particularly down following an argument with someone (over Whatsapp), my usage was more than six hours!