Me and my iBlankey

Taranaki Daily News - - Opinion -

you can up­date your Face­book sta­tus, you can even phone peo­ple.

‘‘All those things are things we gen­er­ally con­sider good things, re­wards, and they’re all very eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by pick­ing up your phone.’’

Dr Cowie said be­cause it is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict when a Face­book ‘like’, or an email, or some­thing else re­ward­ing is go­ing to hap­pen, we tend to pick up the phone more fre­quently.

When it came to us­ing your phone to hide in so­cial sit­u­a­tions, Dr Cowie said it came back to the idea of the phone of­fer­ing re­wards.

‘‘You’re faced with a choice; you’re in a room full of peo­ple you don’t nec­es­sar­ily know, talk­ing to them. To some peo­ple that’s ex­cit­ing but for oth­ers that’s al­ways a bit un­com­fort­able and it’s al­ways risky, whereas be­ing on your smart­phone there’s a guar­an­teed source of some sort of re­ward.

‘‘By en­gag­ing with your smart­phone you’re also avoid­ing stand­ing there like an id­iot. It’s kind of like, ‘I’ve got some­thing to do, I’m an­swer­ing this very im­por­tant email, I don’t look lonely’.’’

Away from so­cial set­tings, hav­ing an iPhone has also af­fected my at­ten­tion span – big time.

I mean, in the past cou­ple of hours alone while try­ing to write this I’ve darted off to Face­book, In­sta­gram, read an ar­ti­cle about how to make your­self ex­er­cise when de­pressed, browsed Spot­light’s web­site to look at cur­tains, and con­tem­plated go­ing to an event about a guy rais­ing money by eat­ing a Big Mac in one bite.

It’s the same with movies. The thought of hav­ing to con­cen­trate on one thing for al­most two hours is some­thing I just can’t com­pre­hend any­more.

In Septem­ber Ap­ple re­leased an iPhone iOS up­date that in­cluded a fea­ture which mon­i­tors your screen time. My av­er­age screen time is two hours and 29 min­utes per day.

A few min­utes on Face­book, a few more on In­sta­gram, check­ing Snapchats, brows­ing Pin­ter­est, search­ing TradeMe. It all adds up.

That num­ber would be even higher, how­ever, if com­puter screen time was taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

Ap­ple’s rea­son­ing for in­tro­duc­ing the screen time fea­ture was so peo­ple could bet­ter un­der­stand and man­age their de­vice us­age.

‘‘By un­der­stand­ing how they’re in­ter­act­ing with their iOS de­vices, peo­ple can take con­trol of how much time they spend in a par­tic­u­lar app, web­site or cat­e­gory of apps,’’ the Ap­ple web­site states.

‘‘The ‘app lim­its’ fea­ture al­lows peo­ple to set a spe­cific amount of time to be in an app, and a no­ti­fi­ca­tion will dis­play when a time limit is about to ex­pire."

Will aware­ness of how much time we spend on our phones change any­thing, though?

I’m not sure. I’ll pon­der it as I stand in the cor­ner at a work Christ­mas party this week­end hid­ing be­hind my iPhone.

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