We’re living at a time of unprecedented digital dependency. As we celebrate 10 years since the arrival of smartphones on the nation’s high streets, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at just how attached to our mobile devices we’ve become in this decade of developing technology.
Last year, The Daily Telegraph ran a story declaring that British people now spend an average of one whole day online out of every week. This figure is further compounded by young adults aged between 16 and 24, who rack up an average of 34.3 hours on the internet each week.
But for an increasing number of the population, our snowballing dependence on smartphones and their apps is causing too much of a distraction from our more analogue lives. Digital detoxing has become a sizeable industry in itself and is designed around encouraging smartphone users to limit the time they spend on their devices – among other internet enabled technology.
On average, we spend almost 3 hours per day on our phones.
Image Source: Hackernoon
Most of the time we spend on our apps is taken by games and watching videos. Hence, having an app that controls the time you spend not only boosts your productivity but can also save battery life of your smartphone, even when it comes to new, sophisticated models like iPhone XS Max, which promises a “talk time” of up to 25 hours.
Image Source: SmartphoneChecker
The celebrate this rather unconventional approach of raging against the machine, let’s take a look at the five best smartphone apps that are designed to deter users from spending too long being glued to their handsets.
When it comes to productivity apps, you’ll be hard pushed to find something more comprehensive than Flipd.
Not only can users utilise the app to disable distracting drains on our concentration like Facebook and Instagram, but also measure your productivity compared to your colleagues and classmates.
By introducing ‘Mindful Moments’, mobile phone users can get Flipd to switch off non-productive apps and games while measuring how long you stay focused on the tasks that you’re aiming to complete.
For added motivation, you can challenge friends and family to complete digital detoxes of their own while measuring up how dedicated to overcoming your collective Pokemon Go collection you are. Flipd even supplies you with notifications of encouragement as you switch off from your device’s distractions.
Flipd is available as a free download on Android and iOS app stores.
Bringing a supreme level of customisation to the act of indulging in a digital detox is Blacklist.
An iOS exclusive for iPhone, iPad and iWatch devices, Blacklist allows users to create a customised list of all the websites they find distracting that will be blocked for a pre-designated amount of time.
This added flexibility makes Blacklist a perfect tool for users who rely on internet access and the freedom of using certain apps for their studies or work. By only picking out the sites that could steal too much attention, you’re free to be as stringent or lenient as you would like with your detox.
Blacklist is available as a free download on the iOS app store.
Another Apple app that takes a deep scrub into your iPhone usage is Screen Time. Not only is this tool free, but it comes built into the iPhone’s iOS 12 software.
Image Source: MacRumors
Screen Time is not only packed with the level of intuitive technology that we’ve come to expect from Apple, but it’s also responsible for more than a few embarrassing moments as users are treated to weekly reports of the amount of time they’ve spent browsing their phones.
A significant advantage of Screen Time is that it enables iPhone users to pinpoint the exact culprits that are consolidating their digital dependency. The tool measures how long you spend playing games on your phone, how much time you spend on social media, and the amount of time you take indulging in entertainment and productivity apps.
Your weekly Screen Time usage reports also contain a percentage change in your iPhone usage on the week before.
Screen Time is a new, standard feature available on iPhones running iOS 12.
Space – you need a breather
“You don’t really want to dump Facebook: you just need space,” runs the tagline of this intuitive app that converts your bad browsing habits into something considerably better for your health.
Many of our app-based addictions are down to the instant gratification that we gain from opening a new notification on Facebook or a fresh mention of Twitter. But Space short-circuits this process by loading a zen-based breathing exercise before you load your most addictive apps.
Space taps into AI and neuroscience to provide users with the ideal moment of zen to provide you in a way that helps fend off the compulsive nature of your favourite apps.
Space is available as a free download on both Android and iOS.
Considering how addicted to games we are, it makes sense that one of the most effective digital detox apps has gamified the process of measuring productivity.
Not only does Forest enable users to set a timer up to measure their productivity, but their reward for completing their downtime without leaving the app is a fully grown digital tree to add to your personal forest.
Every time you set up a detox session through Forest you plant a tree, and as you grow your forest you’ll be rewarded with in-game coins that can be used to unlock more species of plant to introduce to your plot of digital land. However, if you navigate away from the app or close it, any plants you’re growing will wither and die.
Forest’s efforts is an excellent way of fighting the addictive nature of gamification by introducing a type of game that rewards users for ditching their reliance on technology. The coins you earn can even be used to plant trees in real life forests. Now what could be better than helping the environment by keeping away from Reddit?
Forest is available on both Android and iOS stores at a cost of £1.99.