How to Use Your Smartphone Less While Staying at Home

Here are five tools that can help you keep a track of your screen usage and also limit usage. 

Published24 Apr 2020, 09:17 AM IST
Tech News
4 min read

Work has moved online. Sleep cycles are ruined. Everyone is hooked to their screens all day. We are quite literally in an "All work and no play" situation and it is definitely making Jack a dull boy.

You may have wondered multiple times that you're spending an increasingly large amount of time looking at your smartphone. Besides online classes or meetings, a lot of your free time is being spent watching that new web series or browsing through your social media feeds. This can have a big impact on your mental health as well as strain your eyes.

So what can you do to reduce your smartphone usage and limit your screen time while you're staying at home? Here are a few apps that can help you.

Digital Wellbeing Controls by Google

Digital Wellbeing tools can be used to set app timers.
Digital Wellbeing tools can be used to set app timers.
(Photo: The Quint)

Google released digital wellbeing controls during the launch of Android Pie. These controls help users check their smartphone usage habits; how frequently apps are opened, the number of notifications received in a day, and also time spent on each app.

You can use these tools to your advantage by setting daily app timers. The tools follow an aggressive approach to help you reduce your phone usage.

Once you’ve maxed out your time for a particular app, it will be greyed out in the app drawer and you’ll not be able to open it until the timer resets at midnight.

The only disappointing bit is that these tools are only available for a select few Android phones.

Screen Time on iOS

Screen Time gives a usage report for the duration that the phone was being used. 
Screen Time gives a usage report for the duration that the phone was being used. 
(Photo: Apple)

Screen Time is Apple’s answer to Digital Wellbeing.

Apple introduced Screen Time in iOS 12 and the app can be used by parents to limit their kids’ screen times. You can even use it for yourself and keep a track of your screen time and smartphone usage.

Screen Time can tell you how many times you’ve picked up your iPhone in a given hour, time spent on each app, notifications received, and more.

Screen Time can also be used to set app timers, similar to Google’s Digital Wellbeing. Another feature that Screen Time has is called ‘Downtime’.

Apple says Downtime is like a nap for your screen usage. Once enabled, only phone calls and certain whitelisted apps are available for use.

Zen Mode (OnePlus exclusive)

Zen Mode can be used to lock yourself out of your phone.
Zen Mode can be used to lock yourself out of your phone.
(Photo: The Quint)

Zen Mode is a digital well-being feature that locks you out of your phone for a set duration.

You get to choose the duration for which you want to be locked out of your phone - 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, or 60 minutes.

When Zen Mode is enabled, you can’t open any other applications, send text messages, change settings, or basically use any other smartphone feature. All incoming notifications will also be muted.

The two things you can do with your phone are take photos and make and receive phone calls. However, these things also come with a catch. Once you snap a photo, you can’t view your entire gallery. And while you can take calls from anyone, you can only make calls to emergency numbers.

Unlock Clock

Unlock Clock is a live wallpaper that shows the number of times you’ve unlocked your phone.
Unlock Clock is a live wallpaper that shows the number of times you’ve unlocked your phone.
(Photo: Google Play Store)

Unlock Clock is an app that creates a live wallpaper that displays a count of the number of times you’ve unlocked your smartphone in the day.

The app is simple to use and helps you consider your phone usage. It is a more direct approach taken by Google to make you more aware of your smartphone usage habits and cut down on your own.

Unlock Clock is only available for Android smartphones since Apple has a lot of restrictions on customisations that can be done on smartphones and other devices.

ActionDash

ActionDash is like Google’s Digital Wellbeing Tools but is available for all Android phones.
ActionDash is like Google’s Digital Wellbeing Tools but is available for all Android phones.
(Photo: Google Play Store)

If you’re impressed by Google’s Digital Wellbeing tools and controls but your phone doesn’t support it, you can use ActionDash instead. It has a similar user interface and does pretty much everything Google’s tools do.

It shows you a dashboard with the amount of time spent in each app, how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, how many notifications you’ve received. It looks almost exactly like Digital Wellbeing by Google.

Navigating in ActionDash seems easier than navigating in Digital Wellbeing, though. Everything in ActionDash can be accessed by swiping left or right, as compared to menus and hidden screens in Digital Wellbeing.

However, the only catch is that ActionDash does not offer you the ability to set app timers. Other than that, it is a perfect replacement for Digital Wellbeing and a must-have for Android users.

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