Apple Won’t Help You With Your Phone Addiction

By Jennifer Van Grove
San Diego Union-Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Screen Time”, as Apple describes it, creates daily and weekly reports that show the amount of time you spend in each app you use, how many notifications you receive and how often you pick up your device.

San Diego Union-Tribune

If you were hoping Apple might do something to help you curb your phone compulsion, well, keep dreaming.

Monday, the device-maker revealed a “Screen Time” feature coming this fall to its smartphone operating system that will show you just how much of an iPhone hog you are, but do little to change your behavior.

Screen Time, as Apple describes it, creates daily and weekly reports that show the amount of time you spend in each app you use, how many notifications you receive and how often you pick up your device. You can also set time limits for specific apps, and even force “downtime”, as in semi-restricted phone or tablet use, on your children.

It’s enough to make you think that Apple cares about you and your kids’ well-being.

“This is so transparently not intended to solve the problem, it’s brain-hurting,” said Gabe Zichermann, a behavioral designer who now runs Onward, a company that aims to help people combat their digital demons. Rather, Apple is just trying to check the we-are-doing-our-part box, he told me. The same goes for Google and its recently announced “Digital Wellbeing” features.

He likened the companies’ time-monitoring tools to calorie counts on menus, which often go ignored and don’t help people make healthier choices.

“I presented data to Apple a year ago that showed absolutely no connection between knowing your usage time … and your intent at changing it,” he said.

Anecdotally, most of us know he’s right. Those of us who live with a phone addict can attest to the fact that the device-abuser is typically conscious of what they’re doing, and may even want to change. But do they? Nope.

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