We’re living in the age of the smartphone, and having a portable, camera-equipped computer in your pocket 24/7 is brilliant – at least in theory. You can connect with the whole world, wherever you are; take and share photographs on the fly; instantly find answers to any question that pops into your head; and entertain yourself during life’s duller moments.
But social media platforms, mobile games and streaming services are designed to be as distracting as possible. That’s how most of them make money. The more time you sink into browsing and tapping their content, the better – for them. For us, the temptation to spend more time on our phones than on real-life connections and responsibilities is increasingly tough to resist. Various studies suggest this unhealthy relationship with our phones may play a part in rising levels of anxiety and depression – especially among the younger generation. So, how do we rebalance our usage?
One tool to help you is Spotty Time. Launched in 2020, Spotty Time allows you to schedule blocks of downtime lasting up to three hours, during which the majority of apps on your phone are automatically disabled – save the essentials for making and taking calls. It isn’t easy to switch off during the window of downtime, either, beyond deleting the app. This helps you pre-empt your bad habits and nudges you to focus on more important things, off screen. It’s a real procrastination killer.
It’s also perfect for parents concerned about their children’s obsessive phone usage, giving mum and dad hands-off control over handheld devices. You can set up Spotty Time on your child’s phone, and schedule periods of disconnectivity – maybe when they should be playing outside in the fresh air, spending time with the family or completing their homework. By removing the most readily available distractions, the app helps them break out of bad habits, improve productivity, and enjoy a well-needed break from the sometimes-toxic world of social media.
We all know the carrot and stick method. The ‘carrot’, in Spotty Time’s case, is a fun reward system that incentivises spending more time away from the screen. Every block of downtime completed reveals part of a picture, and every minute spent offline will earn you credits with which to customise in-game characters, including pets. The pictures you unlock feature characters enjoying various offline activities, from bike riding to hiking. It’s a simple, cute bit of gamification.
If you and your loved ones need a helping hand to reduce screen time, try Spotty Time, available for free from Google Play.