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

Llanelli Star - - TECH NOW -

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

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