Take a Moment to think about life
This new app will help you cut down on screentime and spend more time enjoying the real world
PUT down your phone and do something interesting instead. We all know the feeling – we have half-asecond of downtime and the hand reaches for the phone pocket. Even though we know we’ll lose time and focus as soon as the screen lights up and the social media apps are launched.
Social media isn’t the only smartphone time-sink, either – while the lure of looking for likes and finding follows is strong, there’s also a world of hyper-addictive gaming to get into, too – from Clash Of Clans, to Fortnite, they’re all designed to make you come back for more.
What we lose by giving in to our addiction to smartphones is potentially quite valuable, though. And even if you don’t feel as if you’re using it too much, it’s worth checking.
Like most things in life that are bad for you but feel good, you’re probably fooling yourself into thinking you are using them less than you actually are.
Both Ios and Android include features that help you monitor your phone use and stay in control.
Apple’s devices have Screen Time, a section in the settings app that shows you how much you have used your phone or tablet, what apps you use and for how long, and allows you to set certain limits on usage.
You can link all this to your children’s devices, too, so you can set hard limits on what they can and can’t do.
Android has a very similar feature called Digital Wellbeing, which monitors usage and presents it in a series of easy to understand charts, and there are parental controls to help make sure your children do not fall foul of smartphone addiction.
But there is another service that goes even beyond the features built in to your favourite smartphone platform – Moment is an app and service that not only monitors how you use your phone, but it coaches you on how to use it better, and in a way that releases you from your addiction, and gives you time back to go and do something more interesting in the real world – such as spending time with your family or reconnecting with nature.
Anyone who has ever glanced up from their phone long enough to see every member of their family’s faces lit up by the glow of their screens, a world away from where they actually are – all in the same room – will realise how nice it would be if everyone would just put their phones down for five minutes.
The short, sharp buzz of a quick
social interaction is so addictive that we find ourselves reaching for our phones to check our status even if we did it just a few seconds before – that has a long-term effect on our attention span.
And I can’t be the only one who has noticed a decline in my ability to focus, distracted constantly by the thought that something might have happened online that I need to know about right NOW.
Moment aims to help solve all these issues – give you back control, save you time, and develop your focus. It’s available for both Android and Ios, and costs £7.99-a-month to subscribe.
It says it can give you at least an hour of your life back every day, and
that comes to about 27p for every 60 minutes regained. Which sounds like a bargain to me.
It’s very careful, though, not to fall into the trap of making you feel as if all your phone usage is bad. Your phone can be an essential tool that helps you find your way around, get work done, even order your dinner.
Moment knows we want to do all these things, but wants to help us find the right balance, so our usage is not unhealthy.
At the heart of it are two big numbers – the number of times you pick up your phone, and the time spent staring at the screen.
You can pick and choose which apps are not included in screen time, too, so if you use navigation in
Maps for a couple of hours you might want to turn off Maps as a source of screen time – that’s healthy phone usage.
The system is very flexible and allows you to work at your own pace, but there are reminders when you stray beyond your goal to help to keep you on track. Day by day you should find yourself using your phone less, and in a more mindful and focussed way.
There’s also a coach to guide you towards the kind of usage you think is healthy for you, and the ability to link up other phones to a family group, with which you can schedule down time.
It’s more interactive than the built-in tools, and the friendly tone of the reminders makes you feel like it’s helping rather than judging, which goes a long way to convincing you to take the advice on board.
I’d urge you to give it a go, even if you don’t think you use your phone too much – this app might surprise you, but gives you all the tools you need to get back to the moments that happen in real life, away from your glowing screen.
■ Find out more about Moment at inthemoment.io. A monthly subscription costs £7.99.
Instead of looking at the wonders of nature on a screen – take a break and get out there
Moment offers a range of options to keep you – and even your family – right on track