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The Truth & Sometimes Ugly Truth- Monitoring Screen Time

Apple introduced Screen Time with iOS 12. My first thoughts brought apocalyptic premonitions regarding allowance and provision of Apple iOS (iPhone/iPad) technology products for many within the youth culture. Parents and educators can now easily review when and how long apps are used. Apple even created beautifully readable charts to diagram when and the duration the device and apps were used for helpful categories like: social; reading and reference; productivity, etc. Researchers have been posting varying and concerning findings regarding the pros and cons of increased screen time on one’s overall physical and mental health for years. However, after reviewing my current statistics within Screen Time, I have concluded it is very beneficial, albeit scary.

Okay, my first experience was reflective of me waking up and looking in the mirror after having fallen asleep with wet hair (long, super curly, and unruly) … where I quickly shut my eyes and reopen them slowly while wishing it was a nightmare and not reality. Prior, I would have staunchly defended that I did not use my iPhone or iPad for as much time, especially for unproductive reasons, for the amount I did and do. Thank you, Apple, for enlightening me how many times I pick up my device and use it, and for what and how long. As a result, I have made a conscious effort to decrease my usage and when I use it. I really would not identify as one who is addicted to social media. However, I clearly am checking on all my “friends” more than I imagined. This is time that could have been spent working, interacting with my family or society, or as needed “down time” to just be in my mind and take in life.

I encourage all of you to try this and monitor your use, whether on iOS or Android (I will include information below on how to do this). Many readers may be thinking, “but I use my technology as necessary assistive technology.” While there are valid amounts of time we all use technology, there are also times we can reduce unnecessary usage.

Google has created, Digital Wellbeing, to help users to understand better how they use their technology and to create healthy habits. Digital Wellbeing is available for Pixel only at launch, and is coming to Android One and other devices later this year. Screen Time will work on any iPhone 5s, iPad mini 2, iPad Air, iPad Pro, or iPad (5th generation) or later, running iOS 12. Macworld published an article describing how to activate both of these options, and how they compare.

For readers who prefer more detailed information about installation and use:

Link for Digital Wellbeing

Link for Screen Time

Do you currently use Digital Wellbeing or Screen Time? I encourage everyone who has not yet used them to write down an estimate of how, when, and how long you think you use your device and for the apps you use most. I also encourage everyone to try the system that works with your device and to reply to this blog with your thoughts… what surprised you the most (if it did), and will this change the way you use your tech in the future?




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Tags: Android, iOS, screen, time, usage


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Comment by Katie Burger on October 23, 2018 at 3:44pm
Thanks for posting! I recently upgraded to the new Pixel and just started exploring the Digital Wellbeing app. It's fascinating and so informative so far. I'm not sure exactly how many of the features I'll end up using but I think there is a lot to be said about just being aware of how much time you ACTUALLY spend on your phone or devices, yo make you more conscious of that time spent. I know that in Google's Digital Wellbeing app there is a feature that allows you to set timers for various apps. For example, after spending a total of 3 hours on Instagram for the day, it will essentially "lock" me out of the app. Of course you can always go and turn it off but it's a good reminder to keep you interacting with your community and the people around you. Thanks again for sharing! :-)
Comment by Janet - Great Lakes ADA Center on October 22, 2018 at 11:31am

Thanks Erika.  I turned it on.  I think this is a really important feature and topic in general. Research has been coming out over the last several years suggesting that looking at screens for hours a day can have some serious health and mental health consequences, so this is very timely! 

Comment by Sammy Abeje on October 16, 2018 at 1:19pm

I just checked my screen time and I definitely should cut down watching YouTube videos.  I think I will start putting my iPhone in a separate room during meal times and while studying.

Comment by Adrienne Kleinman on October 16, 2018 at 5:28am

Erika, this is absolutely fascinating, and terrifying! I know in my heart that I must try this out sometime, but I'm reluctant to as well. I know my usage will not only shock, but appall me too! Thanks for sharing! 

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