Using phones to cut phone use

Smartphone apps such as Screen Time help students monitor their tech habits

Laura Heffernan, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Teens are addicted to their phones.

According to a 2016 survey by Common Sense Media, 50 percent of teens admit to being addicted to their phones, and 72 percent of teens feel the need to immediately respond to a text message.

Many teens find it hard to resist the allure of notifications and instant connections for any significant period.

“It’s kind of like going cold turkey with quitting smoking outright,” said sophomore Ethan Cho.

Cho adds that being on a device while doing homework does not work and the only way he can get a task done is by sitting down and committing himself to it.

Helping to combat misuse of devices, Apple has introduced a new feature with the release of its iOS 12 called Screen Time, which is meant to promote more productive uses of devices.

Screen Time works by taking data from the past seven days of usage and shows trends in how long users have been using apps in certain categories such as productivity, reading, or reference. Screen Time can even show how many times a person has picked up their device throughout the day, making users more aware of how much time is actually being spent on their devices. Unlike other screen monitoring apps, it does not advise students how to use their devices, instead letting users learn of their phone habits.

Android devices have similar apps, such as Moments, and Google has an app called Digital Well Being, which is only available on its Pixel phone.

These components of Screen Time as a whole can provide insight to users in order to help them rethink how they are using their devices.

Senior Ami Narkiewicz said her most used apps are YouTube (34 percent) and Instagram (21 percent). She’s not surprised at the usage of some apps, but she said she’s more aware that she could be spending less time on other apps such as Instagram.

For many students like her, phones have become too much of a distraction to handle while also trying to get work done in the classroom and at home. Students often try to multitask but aren’t aware that forming a cell phone addiction has actual effects on the brain.

“Multitasking isn’t really even a thing,” said Jen Ozdinski, U.S. Government and psychology teacher.

Studies have shown that when using a phone or multitasking, students are three times more likely to make mistakes, and often have poorer information retention.

The Screen Time app gives users options for how notifications are delivered to provide a more distraction free environment.

Users say that Screen Time was effective in the beginnings of usage it wears away over time. While Screen Time sends notifications when time is up on a certain app, there is an option to ignore the limit that is easy to hit. However, parents can set passwords.

Though many tech companies are finding ways to help users combat their tech addiction, self-control and discipline ultimately relies on one person: the users themselves.