I have just started reading Adam Alter’s Irresistible. It’s about technology and the nature of behavioural addiction – a topic I find both important and interesting.
In the first chapter, he talks about a professor who created an app to help track online habits and behaviour. The app is called ‘Motion’. It sounded great so I went to the play store to download it…missing. Unfortunately like quite a few other useful apps ‘Motion’ is iphone only. Nevermind….I went in search of equivalent android apps and found lots. I downloaded three to try ‘Stayfree’, ‘Space’, ‘YourHour’. I wanted to like Space as it had the coolest icon (!) but it required making an account which I couldn’t be bothered with so I moved on to YourHour. This app markets itself as a ‘phone addiction tracker and controller’ which sounds pretty serious but it has the same basic functionality as ‘Motion’ so I installed it.
Once you give it permission to communicate across the apps on your phone it will give you a usage score based on the last seven days and how many times you have unlocked your phone.
I did OK because I don’t really use my phone much at all. I am basically suspicious of all mobiles and the power they have to control, so I try not to have any interesting apps installed beyond Spotify, Evernote and now wordpress.
Here’s why I think this app will help people: when you go on to an app, for example your email, you will get a little GREEN time counter in the top left corner. It will show you how long you have been on the app during the day. If you leave the app and return, the time will continue from where you left off.
If you go on an app for longer than an hour during the day, the counter will turn RED. Having this little clock ticking will make people more aware of the way time passes in addictive apps.
People may also get a surprise when they realise just how often they pick up and check their phones and perhaps be motivated to lower the number on the following day. My own number was double what I thought! In the ‘Space’ app which I didn’t try, you get compete with a community which adds further motivation.
Technology is a part of everyone’s life now and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately a serious number or seriously smart people are on the other side of your screen doing absolutely everything they can to keep you on their app for as long as possible and keep you coming back as often as possible. These apps are not free, they come with a price and that price is your time. The more time they can take from you- the more money they make. Simple. What I like about this app and apps like it, is that it makes us more aware of our actions and gives us actionable feedback that can help us make better decisions about how we choose to use our time. Please try the app…even just for a few days….your time really is the most valuable thing you have.