The time we spend attached to our digital devices is growing exponentially with each passing day.
An average American adult spends approximately 4-5 hours on their phones on a daily basis. Of which, 3 hours and 30 minutes are spent using mobile data. This report from Zenith shows a 20% increase in screen time between 2018 and 2019.
The last few years have made us realize how attached we are to our smartphones and how our life basically revolves around them currently.
Experts suggest that the healthy amount of time to be spent on your phone on a daily basis is around 30 minutes. This is referring to leisurely usage, not including emergencies and other needs.
But, can you proudly say that you’re following this healthy smartphone usage standard?
Even tech executive Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc, spoke up regarding his concerns about smartphone usage and how much of our time they’re consuming.
From the amounts of unnecessary notifications you receive in a day to the hours you spend mindlessly scrolling through your social media accounts, smartphones are slowly turning into a bane rather than a boon.
In light of all this, Apple along with many other tech companies have come up with the concept of screen time tracking. This has been a critical step in the attempt to limit smartphone usage.
This feature lets you how much time you spend on your phone and what you do exactly in this time.
Is Tracking Smartphone Usage Actually Useful?
Apple launched it’s screen time feature with its iOS 12 update.
Since then, many other tech companies and app developers have also followed suit.
But the question is, is this feature actually helping?
Let’s first have a look at everything this feature does.
The screen time feature helps you track your smartphone usage on a daily or weekly basis. It keeps a track of your every movement.
From which apps you use the most, to how many notifications you get in a day from every single app on your phone, it records all your data.
The feature usually gives you a report at the end of the week. So you can see exactly what you’ve been doing that week, how it compared to the previous week, and how much time you wasted in certain apps.
The idea of the Screen Time data is that by understanding how you’re interacting with your phone or tablet, you can then take much greater control, either by taking drastic action like removing the app completely or by limiting how you use it by blocking the apps on your device or setting app limits.
But It Comes With It’s Cons..
While this feature might feel extremely useful, it does come with one major drawback.
The problem of data security. This is the biggest con of tracking your smartphone usage.
With this feature turned on, you’re giving away countless hours of precious data, that could easily be used against you with just the click of a button.
This is especially scary considering all the data breach incidents currently happening on a global scale.
Plus, if you’re someone who’s looking to reduce your daily smartphone usage substantially, then experts believe that screen time tracking might not be the most effective and efficient way to do so.
Irrespective of how addictive we are to our smartphones, we can’t deny that these gadgets are extremely useful and play a major role in our daily lives.
From ordering food, paying bills, setting up appointments, to even listening to music, we need our phones. They allow us to live the comfortable and convenient lives we live today.
So, merely tracking your screen time and trying to limit unnecessary smartphone usage is not really useful. This in fact takes away more time from you.
Instead, you can choose to block the various distractions and use your smartphone in the most efficient way. Without having to constantly track your screen time.
6 Reasons Why Tracking Might Not Be The Smartest And Safest Choice to Limit Smartphone Usage
If you’re still unsure whether you should stick with the screen time feature or get rid of it, here is a well-curated list to help you make this decision.
Data Management Is Often Not In Compliance With Government Standards
Over time it has been revealed that many organizations are guilty of violating laws like GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, and CCPA.
This is majorly due to the stale data problem and poor user management.
With the amount of data being generated and collected every minute due to features like screentime, previous data gets outdated or stale very quickly.
Every organization has at least 1000 pieces of stale data at any given time. This can also be of a bigger magnitude if it involves a bigger company.
If old data is left unmonitored it can lead to financial loss, security compromise, or other problems. This not only affects the consumers but, also tech companies, who can face major financial loss due to this.
Increased Data Breach Incidents
Every other day we hear news of data breach incidents happening globally.
Just in 2020 alone, over 22 billion records were exposed in data breaches. This is horrifying news.
In the digital age that we live in today, all our precious and important data is stored online. If data security is this fragile, are we really safe in our day to day lives?
If you’re a parent who has the screen time feature activated on your child’s phone, think twice before you continue to do so.
With every minute this feature is turned on, every single piece of digital data related to your child is being transferred to tech giants constantly.
Does that sound like a safe option? We’ll let you be the judge of that.
Screen Time Tracking Can Get Addictive
This is the biggest irony of the situation the society is currently stuck in.
It will replace smartphone addiction with an addiction to tracking screen time scores.
The screen time feature was introduced to track your smartphone usage, in order to help reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone on a daily basis.
But over time many users who use the screen time feature on their phone or have downloaded an app to do it for them, have complained about how they’ve grown increasingly addicted to tracking their screen time constantly.
This is a paradox in itself.
The point depicts one of the biggest flaws of this feature.
If you’re trying to actively cut down your smartphone usage, then tacking your screen time might be the least effective way to do so.
This feature is counterproductive as it makes you look at your phone more than doing the opposite. You end up checking your phone often to track how much you’ve used your smartphone for the day, which in turn increases your screen time.
The Screen Time Restrictions Can Be Easily Surpassed
The screen time tracking feature on most phones and apps is complete in many ways.
It makes you aware of your smartphone usage statistics, but what solution does it provide to curb excessive smartphone usage.
Most screen time tracking apps lack this feature.
And the ones that do include some restrictions and limitations to curb your daily smartphone usage, are not quite effective and efficient.
The “App Limit” of Apple screen time, for example, can be easily turned off and surpassed.
When an App Limit is about to expire, you’ll get a notification telling you you’ve only got five minutes left. When your time is up, you’ll see a white screen with an hourglass and the words ‘Time Limit’. You can choose ‘OK’ to leave the app and do something else with your time.
Or, you can select ‘Ignore Limit’, after which you’ll have four choices to select from: ‘One more minute’, ‘Remind Me in 15 Minutes’, ‘Ignore Limit For Today’ or ‘Cancel’.
The feature does make you think twice about this problem but does little to nothing to limit smartphone usage.
Enterprises Often Lack Visibility Regarding Their Data
Some 57% of organizations are creating over 6,500 files containing sensitive data every day. That’s a lot of data, and with it comes a lot of complications.
The amount of data collected, plus the amount of stale data available can cause a wide variety of problems. For both the company and the user. As the data increases, it gets increasingly hard to keep track of it.
There’s also the problem of where that data resides and who can get to it, and the numbers aren’t reassuring there either.
Fifty-seven percent of organizations have at least two open shares, the average organization is creating over 4,000 copies of sensitive files a day, and 71% of organizations have at least 1,000 inactive users who could still be gaining access to sensitive systems.
This definitely does not scream safe!
Does Not Work As A Good Parental Control
Not only is screen time tracking scary due to its fragility and data breach risk, but it also does a very poor job as parental control.
The job of a parental control feature is to ensure that kids don’t spend time on their phones unnecessarily while also ensuring that they’re safe on the internet.
Tracking screen time only gets one part of the job done.
It does not provide any solutions to ensure a child’s safety on the internet. Instead, it puts them and their data at a greater risk.
5 Best Blockers To Limit Smartphone Usage
Here we have curated a list of the best blockers available in the market, to make it easier for you to limit smartphone usage and keep your data safe.
This is a Mac app that sits in your menu-bar and helps you find your zen.
Focus understands that we socialize and entertain ourselves on the same desktop which we work on. So, they’ve come up with a clever system to get rid of distractions while working and being more productive.
After installing Focus on your Mac, you just need to click one button to switch between “work mode” and “leisure mode”.
With just one click “Work Mode” blocks away all websites that distract you from being productive.
The BlockerX app not only allows you to block particular websites that you find distracting. But this also has a feature that is extremely useful and important.
The app also has a porn filter, that when switched on automatically blocks all pornographic content on your phone. This is extremely useful because not only does this prevent adult content from appearing on your phone, but it also saves you from the malware and viruses that come along with these porn advertisements and videos.
A great app, especially for parents looking to limit smartphone usage of their kids. It cannot be easily deleted from the phone and is very strict with its blocking.
Easily the best blocker app you’ll find in the Android play store!
FocalFilter is a free productivity tool that helps you focus by temporarily blocking distracting websites. After the block timer runs out, your websites are available for you to view again.
This way you don’t need to have all your distractions blocked away always. After all, guilty pleasures can be harmless when indulged in moderation.
FocalFilter is the perfect blocker extension for all Windows web browsers and is also very easy to install and use.
Freedom is a distraction blocker, that you can easily download from the App Store on your iPhone.
The biggest pro of this app is that it sync blocks the chosen website across all your devices. This keeps you from cheating and sneaking in a small social media break when you’re meant to be studying.
If you need a little extra help focusing/staying offline, Freedom also offers premium paid features like Locked Mode, Block All, and Block All Except.
This is one of the best available website blockers for Chrome.
You can easily install the extension on your device through the Chrome Web Store and you’re good to go.
The good thing about this blocker is that it does not “blacklist” websites like other apps and extensions.
The StayFocusd approach is a bit different. Users enter the maximum amount of time they would like to spend on specific websites before being blocked. So you can allow yourself some time for idle browsing.
This way you don’t feel restricted and get your daily dose of digital media while also remaining productive.
Smartphones are an important part of society now, we can’t just get rid of them.
But, what we can do is use these devices to make ourselves more productive instead of letting them have complete control over us.
If you choose to use your smartphone the right way you can be way more productive than distracted. It’s all a matter of your choice.
Install a website blocker today on all your devices and say hello to freedom.
Once you have your choice of blocker installed on your phone, what’s the first goal you’d like to achieve? What do you plan to do with all the time you’ll save?
Do share your answers and aspirations in the comment section below. We’d love to hear them all!