It has become hard to decipher where your digital imprint ends and your true self begins in today's tech-dominated world. Scrolling through news feeds and endless updates is not conducive to a good night's sleep, nor does it help you lead a well-balanced life.
An online presence is key for communication purposes, like for maintaining long distance friendships and staying in close contact with family members on Facebook, or even furthering your career via self-promotion on LinkedIn and Twitter.
So, what's the answer to this millennial conundrum: How can we cure a smartphone addiction when using a phone has become a key part of our everyday lives?
The solution could be found in your phone, as ironic as that sounds. Looking through Android's Google Play Store or the iOS App Store for iPhone users will yield a multitude of apps centered around the concept of mindfulness and limiting your phone use. However, we have selected four excellent apps which could help to cure—or at least lessen—your smartphone compulsion.
Forest is quirky little app that allows users to plant a virtual seed and grow a tree, which can soon become a forest, depending on how much time you spend focused on your task. When you don't want to be distracted by your phone, just open Forest and plant a tree, then your seedling will start to grow as long as you leave the app open in the foreground. Wander off and start using other apps, though, and it will wither and die, much like the goal you're trying to achieve. Heavy stuff, but it's most certainly a good motivator to get you up and off your phone.
We've delved into the benefits of StepLock previously, but it really is an innovative application. StepLock locks you out of your favorite apps until you have completed your exercise goal. This means that instead of stalking someone's Instagram while eating a pint of ice cream in an alarmingly short period of time, you'll be greeted by a screen telling you how many more steps you have to take before you can even open the Instagram app. The counter resets at 12:00 a.m. so you've got plenty of time—if you get moving, that is!
Dinner Mode is a handy app for iOS users which inhibits you from accessing apps for an allocated period of time, allowing you to enjoy your meal. Users can set a timer, put down their phone, and "make dinner the place to be tech-free" for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour. The app markets itself as giving iPhone users the chance to take back dinner—we would certainly give it a go.
Onward is the latest app to attempt to curb our obsessive phone usage and achieve that "tech-life balance" we all seem to be craving, yet unable to achieve. UCLA-based clinical advisers were consulted in the creation of this app, and thus far, it's elicited rave reviews.
The app promises to reduce your smartphone overuse with the help of a personalized Al coach (i.e., a sympathetic bot called 'O'), and forces users to confront the amount of time they're spending on their phones. Simply enter your number at the "Get Started" prompt on the site and a download link will be sent to your device. The app is already available for iOS, but Android users will have to join a waitlist for first access.
We definitely recommend giving at least some of these apps a try if you're feeling like you're scrolling your way through life. After all, a living, breathing connection with another person is infinitely more vital than one of the Wi-Fi variety.