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How to take a break from your smartphone

07 Jan 2020 / 11:05 H.

SMARTPHONES are omnipresent now, and most people can’t help reaching for them many times during the day.

However, if you feel you’re losing too much time to these distractions, there are plenty of apps and strategies you can use to cut down your digital dependence.

Google and Apple have developed tools to help their users reduce their screen time.

“The latest releases of iOS and Android come with convenient statistics capabilities on board. With the help of so-called screen time assistants, users can monitor how many minutes, hours or days they have spent on apps,” says app specialist Andreas Weck.

For Android, this feature has been integrated since Android 9 (Pie). Users can find it in the settings under ‘Digital Wellbeing’. For older operating systems, the app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

“On the overview page, you can see how long you have used the smartphone so far or how long the screen was switched on,” says smartphone expert Alexander Kuch.

You can set a maximum time limit to spend on an app and if you use your smartphone a lot in the evenings there’s relaxation mode to counteract this – at the time you set the colours on the display will be replaced by greyscale.

On Apple devices, the comparable feature is called ‘Screen Time’ and has been around since iOS 12. It can be found under settings, and shows daily usage broken down by apps and websites.

The Downtime feature allows you to set a schedule for screen-free time. You can also use the App Limits feature to set daily time limits on app categories such as social networks, games or entertainment.

The idea behind all of these features is that by seeing how long you spend on your smartphone you can think about your habits and change your behaviour if necessary.

There are also plenty of apps to help wean you off your smartphone. For example, there’s Forest, which enables users to plant virtual trees if they don’t touch their smartphone for a certain amount of time.

With the Space app you can build up a small galaxy of virtual moons and planets by achieving your digital abstinence goals.

However, even without using features or apps you should have the discipline to put your phone down and leave it there. You can even ask a friend or family member to temporarily take it away.

Another tip is to leave your smartphone outside your bedroom at night. That way you won’t be distracted by it when you should be getting ready to sleep. – dpa

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