Screen Time/Digital Wellbeing

Perhaps you recently read a helpful article about how to stop doomscrolling. [link to other piece] Perhaps you tried to use the power of positivity to beat your negativity bias into submission, enabling you to put down your phone and drift off to sleep in blissful ignorance of trending topics. Perhaps it didn’t work, but you still want to free yourself from the relentless scrolling of social before bed, or any other time of day. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Some brave, and presumably equally phone-addicted, app developers have the answer.

Screen Time/Digital Wellbeing

Whether you’re on an iPhone or Android, there’s an in-built function in your settings that will help you limit your phone usage. You can set work and personal modes, sleep modes, and Do Not Disturb, plus limit time spent on certain apps. The only drawback is that they’re quite easy to turn off and ignore, so if you want it to work, you might have to give someone else the access code. Plus, if it blocks a social media app, it only works on the app itself and in Safari, not Chrome or Firefox. Where there’s a will, etc.

Freedom

A premium app with a few more features than the built-in phone functions. As well as more effectively blocking all the apps you choose and other ‘distracting websites’, you can schedule sessions at set times, on set days. So your phone can suddenly lose all its distraction powers at, say, 10pm sharp, Monday to Thursday. It’s harder to turn off and once subscribed, you can also use it on your computer. From $6.99 (just over £5) per month, cheaper annually or for whole life usage if your addiction is terminal.

Serene

Only available on Mac but coming soon to Windows, Serene is a hybrid planner and focus app. It’s aimed more at helping you work than helping you to beat your evening doomscrolling addiction, but it’s nicely designed. While it’s a computer-based app, it can block distractions on your phone plus control smart home tech, and even update your Slack status. Cheaper than Freedom’s rolling subscription too, from $4 (approx £3) per month.

The Separation

Not a dramatically named app. Just an old school method for cutting screen time at night. Plug your phone in to charge somewhere at the furthest reaches of your home. Turn it off for good measure. Get into bed, open a book or something else low-tech, make yourself as warm and cosy as possible and then hopefully, hopefully, you won’t be bothered to get up and retrieve it. If not, see above.

Most of us are addicted to using our phones on some level, which is fine most of the time, until it’s not. It’s also totally normal to find taking a break from social media difficult, which is exactly why these apps exist. Using them to use your phone less can help you feel happier and that can improve your mental health. You may just find your productivity improves too. Bonus.

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No willpower? No problem. Technology can save you from yourself.

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