Hello, my name is Anthony and I have a problem. My father-in-law caught this majestic moment of me taking a sunset picture during our visit to Arizona last week. While I promise that I did not have my phone in front of my face for more than a short while to capture a few images, I do find it pretty funny. This could be a poster for Break the Twitch, couldn’t it? I couldn’t help but laugh when I got the email with this and a few other pictures in it. It certainly did get me questioning just how much time I do spend on my phone.
I recently downloaded an iOS app called Moment. It’s a free app that tracks smartphone usage, mainly, how much time you’re using your phone and when. After hearing about it from my friend Cait I decided to give it a try and the results have been pretty interesting.
Over the last two weeks, my iPhone usage has ranged from 20 minutes per day up to three hours per day. It’s a pretty wide spectrum, but I’ve had various days of traveling and such that have added more time than usual. I have to admit that three hours is a pretty intense amount of time to use a phone in a single day, traveling or not.
For the most part, those three hour days are when I was flying somewhere and used my phone to read articles or listen to music. On the other hand, there are definitely days that I really did use my phone for three hours. The bulk of the issue, which I’ve written about before, is the small 2-5 minute bursts that add up to a huge amount of time.
It may not seem like much, but those quick social media checks compound quickly.
These little twitches to check my phone can occur often and add up to a ridiculous amount of time. Every now and then, it’s gives me that feeling of opening an empty fridge, closing the door, turning around and opening it again. Still nothing there, but for some reason feel the need to check.
I try to remind myself that the world will keep spinning even if I’m not watching it. Twitter will keep twittering and Facebook will keep Facebooking whether or not I am there to ensure it. The notifications will wait for when I decide to check them, as opposed to the other way around.
I think an initial fear of possibly missing something, in addition to the excitement that comes from seeing a new update that includes us, or is somehow relevant is what keeps us coming back. Looking for that burst of excitement and the quick dopamine release that we get from a notification.
Using the Moment app has reminded me that it’s important to track and quantify the things that we want to change. Without knowing where we currently stand, it’s nearly impossible to track improvements.
I can’t really imagine any reason I should need to spend more than 60 minutes per day on my phone. This includes phone calls, checking email, reading articles, or just about anything. In the paid version, there is a feature that actually limits the amount of time you can use your phone. For now, I’m going to continue using the free version and just track the time to make sure I stay under one hour.
If you had to estimate, how much time do you use your phone per day? Would you be willing to install the Moment app and find out if that estimate is accurate?
I think you’ll be surprised at how much time adds up during those brief stints of regular usage.