On: Screentime


So here we are. I updated my phone to Android 9 a while back and opted into the Digital Wellbeing Feature. I didn’t think a lot about it – at first. After experimenting with it for a while there are some pretty neat things I started to admire.

Time Limits for Apps 🎉

I limit the screen time for certain Apps quite drastically. Instagram and Twitter are limited to 5-10 minutes a day. Messengers like Telegram or Whatsapp are limited to around 20 Minutes and the Browser to 30 Minutes (where I usually run into when I’m reading an article while commuting.)

I even got more restrictive over time. First I felt the limit is cumbersome – a superficially imposed limitation. But after a while, you get used to it and you start to appreciate the limitedness and stop wasting too much time on stuff that does not matter.

Really why should you spend more than 15 minutes per day on Instagram? Don’t get me wrong here. I enjoy browsing nice imagery but I try to strike a balance. Podcasts, for example, aren’t limited as I enjoy listening to them and usually I selectively listen to certain episodes. But y’all know I’m picky when it comes to podcasts.

Unlocking the Phone – 80+ Times a day.

One of the metrics that surprised me the most was the counter how many time the phone was unlocked per day. I average between 80 and 150 times a day. But that’s really every interaction. I also use the device for work-related duties like on-call alerts and phone calls that also makes a chunk of it. But it left me surprised to see the number.

A thing that totally didn’t work out for me is the Grayscale mode that can be switched on automatically in the evening. It just feels like a big crutch that tries to force me not to use the device. I tried it for a while but got angry because there were no colors anymore – and that’s not fun.

Notifications – Begone!

Another very neat thing is disabling all notifications I don’t use (or don’t want to see). So I am very selective on what can push notifications. I ended up with just a few messenger notifications (but disallowing screen wake entirely). This comes at the cost that sometimes someone pings me on Twitter or Instagram and I don’t see it right away (or I already used up my screentime on that app… sorry if it’s important there are better ways to reach me #notsorry )

The known unknowns

We all know we spend a ton of time thumbing on our mobile devices. But it was really hard to quantify the time spent in front of a phone screen. I’m quite happy that the big manufacturers start to build in features that help us understand how we use our devices and how we can be more mindful with the time we spend in front of a screen.