Why should we stop cell phone addiction

Apps and wooden boxes are supposed to help against cell phone addiction

Many people find it difficult to break away from their smartphone at all. Need makes inventive: wooden boxes and dummies should help. Apps also promise users a more conscious use of the smartphone. But experts warn against them.

The trend Christmas present 2019 is a simple box - at least in Sweden and if the consulting and research company HUI Research has its way. Mobile phone users can put their smartphones in the “Mobile Box” when they need a digital break.

“It's also about the concept and not just about the box itself,” explains Erik Jonsson from HUI Research. Among other things, HUI conducts research in the retail sector and has been choosing the Christmas present of the year for around 30 years. The Mobile Box stands for the current time. There is growing interest in Sweden in using smartphones more consciously, says Jonsson. According to his own statement, the Munich trend researcher Ulrich Köhler also sees a trend here. "It is, however, the case that there is currently more of a desire to restrict oneself there, to have a more precise overview than that actually already happening in well-measurable numbers."

Buy it or do it yourself

You can buy the box, build it yourself or convert an existing box, according to a message from HUI. In fact, a wide variety of designs can be found on the Internet: from wooden design pieces with and without a hole for the charging cable to transparent plastic containers with a time lock. People with annoying habits can lock candy, cigarettes or their cell phone in it for a certain period of time.

Restaurateurs have also discovered the mobile phone boxes for themselves. In the New York restaurant “Hearth” guests can ban their cell phones in cigar boxes, while the coffee house chain “Le Pain Quotidien” donated a free dessert to those who stored their cell phones in a wooden box at the table. According to the website “Mashable”, the fast food giant McDonald's even had cell phone lockers set up in a branch in Singapore in order to lure children away from the display in particular.

Apps as a tool?

“Basically it's a very hard method,” says Michael Link from the computer magazine “c't” with a look at the boxes. More modern smartphones already had functions with which one can gain an overview of the useful life of the mobile phone and individual apps. With Apple devices this is the “Screen Time” function, with some Android devices it is the “Digital Wellbeing” function. This also allows users to limit the time they use certain apps. There are also setting options that have been available for some time, such as the “Do not disturb” function.

However, Link advises against special apps that are supposed to help you use your cell phone more consciously. All too often they turned out to be just data collectors. Such applications try, for example, with playful incentives to encourage users to put their smartphone away for a while or limit notifications.

Emotionally dependent and overwhelmed?

But why do we need these tools anyway? Why don't cell phone users just put their smartphones aside or turn them off? According to trend researcher Köhler, we are emotionally overwhelmed by the complex technology. The constant new updates, the confirmations with a like, with one click, led to the release of happiness hormones, but also to a dependency and in the long term to dullness and dejection.

For particularly tough cases, there are even dummy cell phones on the Internet. Zero megapixels, zero gigabytes, no update - the “NoPhone” is the least developed phone of all time, according to the associated website. The idea: If cell phone addicts reflexively reach for the dummy, the grip does not lead to the distractions of a real smartphone.

Despite the dangers of excessive use, trend researcher Ulrich Köhler warns against calls for a complete disposal of the smartphone. The future will also be significantly shaped by digital technology. "The challenge is simply not to let them dictate life completely, but to use them to improve our lives."

So spend less time with the smartphone

So spend less time with the smartphone

Too much time on the smartphone is not good for anyone. This is how you curb your own smartphone use.

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iOS has the built-in "Screen Time" function that can be found in the settings. It provides an overview of the use of the iPhone and can be used to set up limits.

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So you can set a time out every day during which the use of the iPhone is severely restricted.

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Which apps can still be used during this time can be specified under “Always allow”.

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With “App Limits”, you can also set maximum daily limits in minutes for the use of individual apps or an entire category of apps.

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By introducing a code specifically for the screen time settings, you can discipline yourself so that the settings are not changed again when a limit is reached for the first time.

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Android also offers a comparable function with “digital wellbeing”. However, this is only available for Pixel and Android One smartphones.

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Flipd is ideal for all Android devices. Here you can take a compulsory break of up to 30 minutes in the free version.

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In order for the app to work, it needs this authorization.

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Now a stopwatch is counting down. If you open another app during this time, Flipd automatically moves back to the foreground and makes the smartphone virtually unusable for a short time as intended.

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With Flipd, too, you can select some apps that can be used despite an activated time-out.

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Forest relies more on motivation than coercion. Here you can plant individual trees that can become a whole forest. The only requirement: the app must be active while waxing.

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But if you open any other app you become a “tree killer”, as Flipd puts it, and the beautiful cutting dies miserably.

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If, on the other hand, you persevere and leave your cell phone alone, the tree will flourish splendidly.

Image: dj

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