This App Helps Us Get Real About How Many Hours We Spend On Our iPhones

A new app called Moment is an attempt to help us curb our iPhone addictions by telling us exactly how much time we spend staring it at each day. I think most of us don’t realize the massive cumulative impact of the little 5-minute phone checks we do while waiting in line at the store or on the subway platform, because they seem totally innocuous in the moment. I really don’t want to know the ugly truth of how many hours I waste on the little bursts of scanning Instagram and email that I tell myself only take a few seconds from my day — but that’s kind of the point. The fact that I’m so afraid of the number is exactly why I could use a little nudge toward cutting back.

Beyond just tracking our usage, Moment can help create daily limits on how many minutes you’d like to spend on your phone, and can also gently nudge you when you’re reaching that limit. There’s apparently also a feature that can track where you’ve been throughout the day to help you consider whether your phone is keeping you from going out and living it up.

Kevin Holesh, the mind behind the app, created it to help break his own iPhone addiction. As an app developer, the guy technically has a greater excuse than the rest of us for staring at his phone – it’s his job. But when he found himself making that rationalization to himself more and more, he started to see a problem. He found himself frequently choosing the “easiest” path to relaxation and gratification, rather than sitting quietly for a moment, reading a book, physically talking to another person, or the millions of other things for the little burst of satisfaction we get from seeing our phone ping with a new message.

Holesh says he informally surveyed people about what they thought their daily iPhone usage was, and their guesses were usually only half of how much time they were actually spending in staring at those tiny screens. Holesh learned he spent 75 minutes per day on his phone, and has used the app to cut back to 40 minutes.

The app isn’t meant to be actively used or become yet another distraction on your phone. Rather, it’s “designed to be invisible,” and after you set it up, the app will simply run in the background and remind you when you’re nearing your limits.

I love this idea and am going to give it a try this week. I like that this app doesn’t subscribe to the superiority of a lot of “anti-tech crusaders” who create products and viral videos (that they hypocritically share via the very social media they’re damning) to convince us that technology is civilization’s downfall and that they’re so much better than the rest of us small-minded plebs who can’t seem to stop caring about stuff like texting and newsfeeds. This app gets real with the fact that technology is here to stay, and that it can be used for both good and bad in our lives. The solution isn’t to shut it out, just to create a healthier balance — and maybe end up with a few extra minutes during the day to focus on “real life” stuff instead of our phones. I’m excited (and mildly terrified) to try it!