The issue of smartphone addiction has been one of the hottest topics in tech news this year. With more and more individuals and charities working to raise the seriousness of the issue, the tech giants behind the devices which control our daily lives have finally stepped up to do something about it. The world’s biggest company, Apple, recently made waves when it acknowledged that many of the most popular apps on their devices had been designed in a way that encouraged people to continuously keep using them, fostering addictive behavior.
In conjunction with other major companies like Android and Samsung, Apple has been designing new, user-friendly measures to help combat smartphone addiction and curb the time we all spend staring at screens. Here’s how:
New Insights that Show Your Screen-Time
One of the biggest revelations from iOS 12 was the introduction of the Screen Time function that would be embedded within the operating system. The application works as a kind of monitoring and reporting system, compiling daily, weekly and monthly reports for smartphone users on exactly how often they spend staring at the phone, and how they are using their apps. Whether this function is designed to curb excessive smartphone usage by shaming users with the numbers isn’t clear, but it could just do the trick.
Beefing Up Safety Tools
As has been reported at length, the issue of safety tools is key, as certain groups tend to be highly prone to prolonged smartphone usage. In the same way that online casinos have controls that stop anyone under a certain age from accessing their sites, Apple has promised more vigorous controls to ensure more impressionable groups don’t end up spending a damaging amount of time glued to their smartphone.
Do Not Disturb 2.0
The Do Not Disturb function has existed before smartphones were even invented, but Apple’s latest iteration of this universal feature takes things up a level. The function has essentially been designed to stop once-and-for-all the issue of smartphones keeping people awake at night, one of the most pressing health issues related to smartphones. The function now keeps the screen entirely black and silent all through the night until you turn it off the next morning, meaning nothing will be able to get through and wake you up or tempt you to have a quick scroll through Twitter at 3 am. It’s essentially a maxed-out version of the original Do Not Disturb function.
This one is devilishly simple but has the potential to be by far the most effective. iOS 12 has the ability to bunch all of your notifications together in groups based on which app they’re coming out of, meaning that if you get 12 Twitter notifications, your phone won’t be incessantly buzzing until you’re compelled to pick it up. Rather, the first notification will sound, then the rest will simply be added to that “group” on your screen, without making any additional noises or lighting up your screen. Smartphones just got a whole lot less annoying.
Smartphone addiction and app overload are serious problems that have arisen seemingly out of nowhere, so it’s heartening to see the big tech companies making actual concrete efforts to address this. Whether they will work is another story entirely.