UI/UX Design
Jan 7, 2022

Tech Giants Want You to Use Your Phone... Less?

by
Tori Stroup

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Our cell phones have become part of our everyday routine.

They wake us up in the morning, help us decide what to wear based on the weather, help us miss traffic with navigation apps, and order lunch from the office. Our phones have become personal assistants that live within our pockets to help make our lives easier.

But there’s also a darker side to that relationship.

The one that distracts us from our work with social media notifications, addictive games you play while spending time with your family, and Youtube videos you watch for hours. This is the side of mobile phone use that can easily get out of hand and adds no value to your everyday life.

This is why tech giants like Apple and Google want you to use your phones less. They’ve identified that not only is phone use consuming the lives of people all around the world, but it’s also causing addiction and making them miserable in the process.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into the following topics:

  • Phone addiction
  • How it’s impacting our mental health
  • Why tech giants are starting to encourage

Because We’re Addicted to Our Phones…

Let’s face it. We’re all a little more reliant on our cell phones than we’d like to admit.

To prove it, try to think back to the last time you went an entire day without using your cell phone. Or better yet, a time during the day when you’ve gone more than two hours without checking your notifications.

Most people won’t recall the last time they put down their phones for this long. That’s because, as a society, we’ve become addicted to our phones and mobile technology and expect it to be close by at all times.

Cell phone addiction is prevalent across all age groups. People are constantly checking their phones, from every few minutes to a few times an hour – it all adds up throughout the day. The more time people spend on their phones, the less time they are productive at work and school or present with the people around them. Image courtesy of Statista.

It’s become such a widespread thing, the fear of being without a mobile device has its own name, nomophobia.

Nomophobia and cell phone addiction are where this discussion starts.

Tech companies are starting to realize that this addiction could have a negative impact on how people use their smartphones in the future.

They understand that if something causes people harm, they will use it less and less. And they’re starting to identify that constant access and reliance on smartphones and mobile devices is causing harm to people who are using them.

This leads us to our next point: our phones are making us miserable and damaging mental health.

And Our Phones Are Making Us Miserable…

Constant use of our phones is making us miserable.

People are starting to focus more on their mental health and avoiding things that have a negative impact on it. It’s been found that mobile devices and cell phone addiction can lead people to feel depressed and anxious for several reasons.

In addition to that, many people find that it’s harder to connect with others face-to-face because they rely on their smartphones. Whether they feel like they can’t connect with others on a personal level or can’t disconnect when in social settings – it all impacts how we interact with each other.

Let’s take a closer look at how our phones are slowly impacting our mental health and interactions with others.

Mental Health

Studies have found some correlations between mental health and cell phone use.

While most studies have been done on teenagers and young adults, the results have shown that higher cell phone use often leads to higher depression and anxiety rates.

There are a number of different ways that cell phone use can affect your mental health, including things like:

  • The constant fear of missing out can cause or increase symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Reliance on your phone to the point of anxiety or stress when it’s not with you or working
  • Using your phone as a distraction to avoid negative emotions and deal with the problems you’re experiencing
  • Poor sleep habits due to cell phone use can cause depression and anxiety to worsen

The feelings of anxiety and depression often come from channels like social media. With instant access to what others are posting, it’s easy to feel left out or underwhelmed with your own life. In reality, these are distorted views of what people’s lives truly are.

Another important factor when looking at mental health is how cell phone use impacts your sleep habits. If you fall into a schedule of poor sleep, you’re much more likely to find yourself feeling depressed, down, and anxious.

It’s been shown that cell phone usage before bed can impact your sleep, yet over 80% of people still check their phones within 1 hour of going to bed. Even worse, we’re trained to check our phones as soon as we wake up in the morning, and this is a habit that almost 70% of people have. Image courtesy of Bank My Cell.

Smartphone usage before bed can impact how you sleep and keep you up later than you intended. A good night’s sleep is essential for your mind and body and can significantly impact your mental health.

Decreases Interactions With Others

Another problem that comes with the overuse of cell phones? Decreased live interactions and communication with others.

Have you ever gone to a social event and half of the people there have their phones out? It’s almost like we’ve forgotten how to communicate with one another without having the security of our cell phone to bail us out.

People who are addicted to their cell phones may not know how to interact with others or the world around them and use their phone as a coping mechanism. So, rather than talking and laughing with friends, they’ll spend the majority of their time on their phones.

Because of cell phones, our communication skills are slowly decreasing and people don’t know how to interact with people in person. Cell phones are changing the way we interact with each other and creating a new social dynamic.

Even if someone doesn’t struggle with connecting and communicating with others in person, they’re most likely still spending time checking their text messages or scrolling through Instagram. It’s a never ending cycle and takes away our attention from the people who are right in front of us.

The consequences of poor face-to-face communication lead to more people feeling lonely, struggling to connect with other people, and trouble sharing personal emotions and feelings.

Tech Giants Are Shifting Gears…

Tech giants like Apple and Google are taking note of everything we just discussed. They’re realizing that if they don’t start to proactively encourage healthy digital usage, the downfall could be much worse in the long run.

If people start to realize how much cell phone addiction has impacted their lives, they may be more likely to use them less and less. So, these companies are shifting gears and starting to find ways to help us limit our digital intal – with tools they’ve developed.

Tools Limiting Digital Use Aren’t Really New

Now, we do have to point out that this isn’t necessarily ground breaking technology.

In fact, there are plenty of third party apps already offering people ways to limit and control how much time they are spending on their smartphones. From

Here are just a few examples of apps already offering these types of tools:

  • Offtime – an app that blocks distracting apps and games and filters communications based on your settings
  • Moment – an app that tracks and limits your daily usage and lets you know when you’ve exceeded them
  • BreakFree – an app that provides you with an addiction score based on your cell phone usage

There are tons of different third-party apps out there that can help you limit your phone usage. Each offers something a little different to help you understand, track, and manage your digital and smartphone usage.

The difference now is that the big players are entering the game and making it even easier for cell phone users to limit their usage.

Apple and Google Jump on the Bandwagon

Now that Apple and Google have identified that it’s in their best interest to help people fit a healthy balance with their digital devices, they’ve come out with some helpful tools.

From tools that let you know precisely how much time you’ve spent on your phone and different apps to the option to set usage limits and downtime, both tech giants are building new tools into their devices.

Apple Screen Time

Apple devices have a number of tools that help users control and manage their screen time. These insights will help you understand how much and what you’re using your mobile devices for most.

Apple users can now use a variety of tools within the Screen Time settings to control their smartphone usage. From getting reports that outline where time was spent to allowing people to set limits and downtime, users can start to really understand their smartphone consumption. Image courtesy of Apple.  

Here are a few of the helpful tools that are available through Apple Screen Time:

  • A screen time report showing you how your device is used, including apps and websites you’ve visited
  • See actual usage times and how long you’ve spent looking at your phone
  • Set limits on apps to control the amount of time you spend playing games or scrolling through social media feeds
  • Track how many times your device was picked up or received a notification
  • Schedule downtime and snooze all calls, messages, and apps that you don’t want to distract you

All of these insights will help you see a more holistic view of how you’re using your cell phone. It can open your eyes to just how often you’re reaching to check your most frequented apps and allow you to set limits for yourself.

Google Digital Wellbeing

Google has an entire website dedicated to its Digital Wellbeing tools. It provides you with tips and tools on how to manage the time you’re spending on your phone, unplug more often, and minimize distractions when it’s needed the most.

Google’s Digital Wellbeing tools provide Android users with the resources they need to manage their digital usage and downtime. From having an easy-to-use dashboard that provides a complete view into mobile usage to ways to mute notifications and distractions – Google has a full stack of tools for users. Image courtesy of Google Digital Wellbeing.

For Android users, some of the tools available to help put these tips into action include:

  • A dashboard that provides you with a complete picture of how you are using your phone, including screen time, the number of notifications you get, and how often you’re unlocking your phone
  • The ability to limit the time you spend on specific apps and websites
  • Bedtime mode that puts your phone on Do Not Disturb when you’re sleeping
  • Set Do Not Disturb timeframe to help you focus on a specific task you need to complete or spend time with others uninterrupted
  • Flip your phone face down to turn it on Do Not Disturb to make it even easier to set boundaries and step away from the interruptions of your phone

Google has put a number of valuable tools in place to make it easier for Android users to step back and enjoy life without being attached to their phones. With simple Do Not Disturb tools, it’s much easier to set your phone down to accomplish a task to connect with others around you.  

Both Apple and Google Want You to Spend Less Time on Your Phones, With Their Help

Once you dig into the details around cell phone addiction and how it’s impacting the daily lives of people, it’s easy to start to understand why these tech giants want you to start using your phones less.

They want to create the tools you need to limit and control your digital usage so you continue using their devices well into the future. Overuse and burnout will only result in people identifying that their phones are the problem and starting to wean themselves off using these tools on their own.

By proactively providing the resources people need to build healthy relationships with their digital experiences, they are more likely to continue using them longer and build a stronger connection with the company.

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