Smartphones are awash with tools to interface with friends, work and the wider world. However there have been claims that smartphones are stunting society, or making the world more anti-social. To wit, a new Android app called QualityTime hopes to show users their smartphone habits, and to give them breaks when necessary.
According to the official press release:
With statistics showing that most people sleep next to their smartphones, and 90 percent regularly overuse their devices, QualityTime is ideal for those suffering from smartphone addiction — or for those who are simply curious about how much time they spend on popular apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp.
The app monitors total app usage and phone unlock frequency, and it provides detailed reporting — called your “digital diet — broken down by daily, weekly or monthly usage statistics. Paradoxically, the app can be used to send status updates to inform friends of their usage, or lack of usage.
QualityTime seems to be part of the growing trend toward digital detoxing. Indeed, there are full-blown retreats dedicated to getting off the grid, and as more users consider their attachment to their mobile devices problematic, digital detoxing is becoming a common New Year’s resolution.
The Verge contributor Paul Miller vowed to spend a year offline. However, Miller found out that there isn’t some utopia that only lives in offline spaces. After a year offline, he wrote:
I wanted to figure out what the Internet was “doing to me,” so I could fight back. But the Internet isn’t an individual pursuit. It’s something that we do with each other. The Internet is where people are.
With all of the benefits that smartphones provide, it doesn’t make sense that we should quit them en masse every January to somehow reclaim our lives. What may be more important is understanding the root causes of our occasionally contentious relationship with technology, social networks and the Internet.