By Jacob Kersh
It is no doubt that humans have become far more reliant on technology in recent years. In fact, studies have shown that about forty five percent of our time awake is spent in the presence of a technological device (DailyMail). And the device that humans use more frequently than any other is undeniably the smartphone. However, is it possible that the massive amount of time we spend with a screen in front of our eyes can negatively affect both our bodies and our minds
Scientists agree that too much screen time can definitely cause some negative long term health effects. Chronic digital eye strain is the biggest concern, but there are many other problems that screens have the potential to cause. This is why it is important that humans try to monitor the amount of time spent on their electronic devices, and reduce it if possible. Many tech companies agree. In 2018, they have been mounting a tremendous push to mitigate the ways personal devices are engineered to be addictive. Even the company Apple—one of the most prominent smartphone developers in the world—is no exception.
Upon the release of iOS 12, Apple released a special program that gives their iPhone users a better grasp on just how frequently they use their devices. It also provides them with the tools to manage how often they use certain apps. Appropriately, they have dubbed this program “Screen Time.”
The first thing users should do through Screen Time is check their Screen Time report: a bar graph found in “Settings” that shows how much time they have spent on your phone in a day or in a week. From there, users can see a breakdown of the time they are spending on specific apps and even see how many times they pick up their phones in an hour.
According to Glenelg Senior Cole Iannarino, “Everyone who checks their report should make sure it covers every screen they use. So if someone has two Apple products, they should turn on the ‘Share Across Devices’ button in Settings.” However, it is important to remember that this will only work if the two devices are connected by the same iCloud account.
The second important aspect of screen time is setting time limits. For example, if a user wants to curb their social media usage to one hour per day, they can go to Settings>Screen Time>App Limits>Add Limit, then select "Social Networking" to create a time limit. Once the time is up on an app, the user will receive a limit notification. The app icon will also appear dimmed on the home screen. However, it is possible to bypass app timers once a user has added them. When a limit notification pops up, there is an "Ignore Limit" button that users can press to either give them an extra 15 minutes or the whole rest of the day.
One limitation of this function is that users can only limit apps by categories. This means the above example would apply to all apps that Apple categorizes as “Social Networking,” not just the ones they spend too much time on. The logic can be a bit confusing, but usability will only get better with time.
Although Screen Time may sound a bit excessive, Glenelg students who have recently started to use the program argue otherwise. For instance, Junior Nathan Curtis says, “The first time I looked at my weekly report honestly opened my eyes. I thought my average time [per day] would be around three hours, but it was actually over six. Apparently that’s below average in America!”
Curtis believes that by limiting his usage of Instagram and Snapchat—the two apps “Screen Time” says he uses most frequently—he will be able to bring his usage time down significantly. However, he also mentioned that it is going to be a difficult process—especially because he hasn’t really felt any short term health effects. Nevertheless, he knows that cutting his phone time down will be better for him in the grand scheme of things.
In conclusion, “Screen Time” has indefinitely succeeded in giving iPhone users a reminder that they have become addicted to the devices they can no longer be without. But whether they take the next step and begin curbing their usage is entirely up to them.