A recently added feature on IOS allows users to monitor how much time is spent on their phone with results broken down per app.
Screen Time was added as a new feature on IOS12 in September. It can be activated in Settings – Screen Time, just under Do Not Disturb. Once set up, it will give a daily report on use of the phone, apps and websites. It also shows how many times users pick up their phone per day.
“My main observation is the paradox of having to rely on our phone in order to cut down the time we spend on our phone,” said Eugenia Siapera, chair of the MA in Social Media Communications in DCU.
“I would be inclined to say that not all phone use is equivalent and that users may be better off reflecting on the type of use they want more of as opposed to the one they want less,” Siapera added.
Apps can be given a daily time limit individually or by category such as social media, entertainment etc. Once a user reaches their limit, they will be told and given the option to set a reminder for later or ignore the warning.
For students entering study and exam time, the feature may be useful for getting less distracted by screens.
Third-year business student in DCU Eoin Treacy owns an Android and said the feature would benefit him if made available.
“If at the end of the day you get a notification that breaks down your screen time and you realise you spent more hours on Reddit than you did actually working, a little bit of shame might go a long way in keeping me in check,” said Treacy.
Treacy added that a high number of screen time may not always be a bad thing.
“Screen time on Map My Run or the calculator is obviously not the same as screen time on your social media app of choice,” he said.
Apps for limiting screen time and blocking apps during certain parts of the day have previously existed on IOS and Android but many were not free.
Siapera added that screen time was useful as it allows users to distinguish between time spent on each app.
“Users should also rely on themselves and on setting their own criteria about their phone use rather than use someone else’s,” she said.
Image credit: Alison Clair