iOS 12’s Screen Time Feature Will Curb Your Phone Addiction

ios12-screen-time

For many, smartphones have become our world. And some are downright addicted to technology. Both Apple and Google understand this problem and have released new digital wellness tools. When dealing with any kind of addiction, the first step is acceptance. iOS 12’s new Screen Time feature shows you detailed statistics for how you spend time on your iPhone. Once you’ve seen the data and realize how much you use your phone, you can use new tools to limit the time you spend in apps and your iPhone in general. Let’s take a look. How Much Do You Use Your iPhone?…

Read the full article: iOS 12’s Screen Time Feature Will Curb Your Phone Addiction

ios12-screen-time

For many, smartphones have become our world. And some are downright addicted to technology.

Both Apple and Google understand this problem and have released new digital wellness tools. When dealing with any kind of addiction, the first step is acceptance. iOS 12’s new Screen Time feature shows you detailed statistics for how you spend time on your iPhone.

Once you’ve seen the data and realize how much you use your phone, you can use new tools to limit the time you spend in apps and your iPhone in general. Let’s take a look.

How Much Do You Use Your iPhone?

First, let’s find out how bad your iPhone addiction really is. Open the Settings app and choose the new Screen Time option. Then tap your device name on the top.

Now, you’ll see a detailed breakdown of how much time you’ve spent on your iPhone today. To view data for the entire week, tap on the Last 7 Days tab on the top.

The total time spent shows at the top, along with a chart showing the time periods when your iPhone was active. The usage breaks down by categories like Social Networking, Productivity, Entertainment, Reading & Reference, and more.

Scroll down and you’ll see your most used apps for the day or the week. This is the crux of the matter. Here, you can figure out which apps you spend the most time on.

Tap Show Categories to switch to the categories view, or tap an app or a category for a detailed view. This shows you a detailed breakdown of your usage. The day view breaks down your usage by the hour. In the week view, you can see the usage on a day-to-day basis, along with the daily average, and the total notifications you received during the week.

Scroll down further on the Screen Time screen and you’ll see two more sections: Pickups and Notifications. The Pickups section tells you how many times you picked up your iPhone during the day or the past week.

Use the Notifications section to figure out which apps are capturing your attention. Notifications are usually the gateway to your iPhone. If an app is sending you way too many notifications (even if it’s a messaging app like WhatsApp), you now know why you end up picking up your phone. It might be wise to silence notifications for chat apps, even if only for a couple of hours per day.

Set Category and App Limits

Check in with the Screen Time statistics every night for a couple of days, and you’ll start to recognize patterns. This is similar to the Quantified Self movement and automated health tracking. The first step to the path of improvement is knowledge. Use the Screen Time stats to accrue knowledge about how you use your device, like which apps take up too much of your time over the weekend.

Once you realize you spend 8-10 hours a week on Instagram, you can think about how much time you actually want to spend on Instagram during a day. You might aim to cut this from two hours a day down to one hour. Then you can use the rest of the time doing something productive or creative—or nothing at all.

This is where the new App Limits feature comes in. There are two ways to add limits. You can go to the App Limits section in Screen Time and tap on Add Limit. But here, you can only create a limit for a category like Social Networking or Entertainment (not an app). Choose a category, tap Add, and then set the time.

When the limit is up, the relevant apps will appear grayed out on the Home screen and you’ll see an hourglass icon next to the app’s name. When you tap on it, iOS will show you a splash screen that says that you’ve reached the time limit for the day. You can tap on the Ignore Limit button and either snooze the feature for 15 minutes or disable it entirely for the day.

App Limits

To set an App Limit for a particular app, select your device from Screen Time and scroll down to the Most Used section. Tap an app, scroll down, and select Add Limit. Configure the time and then tap Add. If you want to add the same limit for multiple apps, tap on Edit apps.

And here’s the genius of App Limits feature: it applies to websites as well. Say you’ve exhausted your daily quota for Instagram and think you can just use the website instead. When you open the Instagram website in Safari, you’ll be met with the same Time Limit splash screen (of course, this won’t carry forward in third-party browsers like Chrome).

Set Downtime

Downtime is the nuclear option. Using this feature, you can schedule a time period where almost every app on your iPhone will be disabled. Only phone calls and apps like Phone, Messages, FaceTime,and Maps will be allowed by default.

Downtime is like Do Not Disturb, but for apps. If you find yourself using apps late at night, you can schedule Downtime to begin one or two hours before you go to bed. This way you can strongly discourage yourself from using your phone.

From the Screen Time section, tap on Downtime. Enable the feature and then set the Start and End times. Now go to the Always Allowed section. From here, you can add apps to the allowed list. These apps will be accessible even when Downtime is enabled. In practice, Downtime works just like App Limits. So even though apps are grayed out, you can still choose the Ignore Limit option to disable the limit for the day or for 15 minutes.

If you’re in a Family Sharing group, you can use the Screen Time feature to set App Limits and Downtime for a child’s device as well.

Can You Curb Your Smartphone Addiction?

Hopefully with Screen Time, you’ll have a better shot at reducing how much you use your phone. Then you’ll have more time every day to spend on other activities.

There’s another trick you can try if you’re addicted to your iPhone. Draining all color from the screen will make it less interesting and help you use your iPhone less. Try it yourself and see what you think.

Read the full article: iOS 12’s Screen Time Feature Will Curb Your Phone Addiction

I Used a Dumbphone for a Year: Here Are 8 Lessons I’ve Learned

used-dumbphone-ditched

A year ago, I ditched my smartphone for a dumbphone. It was liberating to free myself from many of the pressures that come with carrying a device that’s designed to be addictive. But after a year, I ultimately decided to switch back to a smartphone. Here are the reasons why and everything I learned throughout the experience. 1. Dumbphones Have Regressed Image Credit: Lawcain/Depositphotos Fifteen years ago, there were some really slick feature phones available. Handset manufacturers tried to pair creative hardware with attractive software that was effective at placing calls, making texts, listening to music, and taking pictures. Many…

Read the full article: I Used a Dumbphone for a Year: Here Are 8 Lessons I’ve Learned

A year ago, I ditched my smartphone for a dumbphone. It was liberating to free myself from many of the pressures that come with carrying a device that’s designed to be addictive.

But after a year, I ultimately decided to switch back to a smartphone. Here are the reasons why and everything I learned throughout the experience.

1. Dumbphones Have Regressed

Woman using a flip phone
Image Credit: Lawcain/Depositphotos

Fifteen years ago, there were some really slick feature phones available. Handset manufacturers tried to pair creative hardware with attractive software that was effective at placing calls, making texts, listening to music, and taking pictures.

Many of today’s feature phones are functional at best. These devices work, but they’ve lost many of the features they had in the past—plus much of the polish.

Over the past year and a half, I tried one Sprint phone (the Kyocera Verve), one from AT&T (the Cingular Flip), and one general GSM handset (BLU Diva Flex 2.4). I would have loved to have tried the Punkt phone, but thanks to its reliance on 2G, it wouldn’t pick up enough signal in my neck of the woods.

Each phone I tried felt janky in its own way: sloppy fonts, lazy design, bugs, and menu options that no longer work. To make matters worse, I had to deal with low talk volume and relatively quiet ringtones. The speakerphone was often barely audible.

I’m sure there are feature phone models that provide a better experience, but considering how few models there are in general, I’m surprised I’ve had to search this hard.

2. We Don’t Talk the Way We Used To

iPhone X Lock Screen
Image Credit: Jamie Street/Unsplash

Even before smartphones, it was already somewhat weird to place a call for someone my age. We generally preferred texting. Phone calls were for parents and the people we were dating.

Today, the options for messaging apps are even more segmented. Some people prefer Facebook Messenger. Others like WhatsApp. I have friends who use Discord, and I know of someone who uses Snapchat. There’s iMessage and Google Allo too. None of these platforms work on feature phones.

Many of my friends do happen to communicate via good old-fashioned SMS. But often, they send group MMS messages that my phone could not display in a threaded fashion. That meant I received messages individually, in separate threads, with no way to follow the conversation or respond back to the entire group.

3. A Dumbphone Means No Secure Messaging Apps

Not only have we changed the way we talked, but we’re also in the process of rethinking our concept of private and secure communication. After seeing just how much of our conversations companies and governments store, many of us have started to chat via encrypted messages.

WhatsApp, iMessage, Google Allo, and Skype have all adopted end-to-end encryption. Signal remains my personal preference.

While these apps offer varying degrees of privacy, they’re all more secure than SMS. But none of them are compatible with dumbphones. Relying on a phone that can only make regular calls and texts means you have no easy way to shield your conversations.

4. People Expect You to Have GPS Navigation

A phone with a GPS navigation app open
Image Credit: Enrique Alarcon/Unsplash

Finding people and places doesn’t take much effort these days. First you’re texting a friend, then they drop an address and you’re following on-screen prompts a moment later. When you’ve decided to meet with someone, it’s easy to find your way to where they are in the span of ten minutes.

What if you don’t have GPS navigation and instead ask your friend for directions? They might have no idea. My friends have no problem following a GPS to my house, but some aren’t knowledgeable enough about my part of town enough to connect where I am to where they are. And frankly, I don’t want to go back to writing instructions down.

This isn’t merely an issue with friends. People in general have come to assume that if they tell you where to go, you can quickly figure out how to get there.

I could have gotten around this by buying a dedicated GPS navigation unit, but I’ve never particularly liked those. I actually downloaded an offline maps app to an old smartphone and kept that in my car. Unfortunately, that app still needed an internet connection to pull up addresses, which my dumbphone couldn’t provide.

5. I Could No Longer Open Links

While many people I know prefer to use one chat app or another, I can still communicate with most of them via a traditional SMS message. Yet over the course of a conversation, they’re likely to share a link. They want me to check out an article, or watch a video. With a dumbphone, I couldn’t.

As a workaround, I forwarded text messages to my email account (I could also send texts via email). Then I would load them up on my computer. Afterward, I’d return back to that portion of the conversation.

I was surprised that this became an even bigger hindrance when shopping at a store. One time, there was a discount available if I registered for a coupon via text message. The problem was that the store sent me back a text with a link I had to click in order to confirm my registration. So much fail.

6. Smartphones Provide a Sense of Security

With a smartphone in my pocket, I feel secure to travel spontaneously. Wherever I go, I can find my way home. When visiting a new place, I can find food and exhibits to see. If I’m downtown with time to spare, I can easily find a place to chill. I can wander around with a decent sense that I haven’t wandered into an uncomfortable part of town. Mass transit systems start to make sense.

I often don’t need my phone for any of these tasks. Many times I won’t even take it out. But knowing it’s there as a fallback gives me the confidence to put myself out there.

7. It Was Harder to Get Work Done

For this past year, I’ve had to do everything on my laptop. That has been both a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, when I was away from my computer, I was free from email and work. But when I sat back down at my computer, it was my time to catch up on everything: personal and work email, news, and blogs alike. As you can imagine, this was quite distracting. Without another device, I could get online using my computer.

With a smartphone, I can now manage email and Slack notifications from my phone. I’ve also started using a writing app that I sync between my phone and my Pixelbook. This way I can write at times when my computer isn’t around, as I’m doing right now.

Having to do everything on a PC meant I was less productive when I sat down to work, and my options were limited when I was away from my computer.

8. Phones and Cameras Are Now One and the Same

Camera taking a picture
Image Credit: Priyash Vasava/Unsplash

Today, many of us use our phones more as cameras than as phones. Switching to a basic phone means committing to carry around a separate camera again.

Yes, technically my phone had a built-in camera. But the 2MP shooter on my dumbphone wasn’t worth using for anything other taking snapshots of item I wanted to remember to look up later. Trying to capture memories only left me frustrated I didn’t have a better camera around.

A dumbphone also made it harder to view images that people sent me. I typically had to zoom, and even then, the screen could only deliver pixelated results that hardly represented the picture’s actual quality. And trying to view screenshots was a non-starter.

I don’t take pictures most days, nor do I have any social media accounts to obsessively post photos to. But I still like having a decent camera phone in my pocket for those spontaneous moments I could not have planned ahead for.

I Still Like the Idea of Going Back to a Basic Phone

Unfortunately, the dumbphone options in my area aren’t that great. The flip phones at my local carrier store don’t just look like relics from the past; they function that way too. I like the idea of the Light Phone, but it’s currently sold out and costs more than I’m sure I want to spend.

For the time being, I’m using the Essential Phone—and I love it.

Smartphones have changed while I was using a dumbphone. Many of the high-end devices no longer struggle to make it through a full day. Fast charging has also made it much less of an issue when they do. Fingerprint scanners make it easy to quickly check something on a phone without having to first enter a pattern or password one-handed. Android Pie has further reduced the amount of clutter on screen, and my phone now lets me uninstall or disable the overwhelming majority of the pre-installed apps.

Using a smartphone mindfully is still an exercise in self-restraint, but it’s becoming a little easier to do.

Read the full article: I Used a Dumbphone for a Year: Here Are 8 Lessons I’ve Learned

Facebook cracks down on opioid dealers after years of neglect

Facebook’s role in the opioid crisis could become another scandal following yesterday’s release of harrowing new statistics from the Center for Disease Control. It estimated there were nearly 30,000 synthetic opioid overdose deaths in the US in 2017, up from roughly 20,000 the year before. When recreational drugs like Xanax and OxyContin are adulterated with […]

Facebook’s role in the opioid crisis could become another scandal following yesterday’s release of harrowing new statistics from the Center for Disease Control. It estimated there were nearly 30,000 synthetic opioid overdose deaths in the US in 2017, up from roughly 20,000 the year before. When recreational drugs like Xanax and OxyContin are adulterated with the more powerful synthetic opioid Fentanyl, the misdosage can prove fatal. Xanax, OxyContin, and other pain killers are often bought online, with dealers promoting themselves on social media including Facebook.

Hours after the new stats were reported by the New York Times and others, a source spotted that Facebook’s internal search engine stopped returning posts, Pages, and Groups for searches of “OxyContin”, “Xanax”, “Fentanyl”, and other opioids, as well as other drugs like “LSD”. Only videos, often news reports deploring opiate abuse, and user profiles whose names match the searches are now returned. This makes it significantly harder for potential buyers or addicts to connect with dealers through Facebook.

However, some dealers have taken to putting drug titles into their Facebook profile names, allowing accounts like “Fentanyl Kingpin Kilo” to continue showing up in search results. It’s not exactly clear when the search changes occurred.

On some search result pages for queries like “Buy Xanax”, Facebook is now showing a “Can we help?” box that says “If you or someone you know struggles with opioid misuse, we would like to help you find ways to get free and confidential treatment referrals, as well as information about substance use, prevention and recovery.” A “Get support” button opens the site of The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the US department of health and human services that provides addiction resources. Facebook had promised back in June that this feature was coming.

Facebook search results for many drug names now only surface people and video news reports, and no longer show posts, Pages, or Groups which often offered access to dealers

When asked, Facebook confirmed that it’s recently made it harder to find content that facilitates the sale of opioids on the social network. Facebook tells me it’s constantly updating its approach to thwart bad actors who look for new ways to bypass its safeguards. The company confirms it’s now removing content violating its drug policies, it’s blocked hundreds of terms associated with drug sales from showing results other than links to news about drug abuse awareness. It’s also removed thousands of terms from being suggested as searches in its typeahead.

Prior to recent changes, buyers could easily search for drugs and find posts from dealers with phone numbers to contact

Regarding the “Can we help?” box, Facebook tells me this resource will be available on Instagram in the coming weeks, and it provided this statement:

“We recently launched the “Get Help Feature” in our Facebook search function that directs people looking for help or attempting to purchase illegal substances to the SAMHSA national helpline. When people search for help with opioid misuse or attempt to buy opioids, they will be prompted with content at the top of the search results page that will ask them if they would like help finding free and confidential treatment referrals. This will then direct them to the SAMHSA National Helpline. We’ve partnered with the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration to identify these search terms and will continue to review and update to ensure we are showing this information at the most relevant times.”

Facebook’s new drug abuse resource feature

The new actions follow Facebook shutting down some hashtags like “#Fentanyl” on Instagram back in April that could let buyers connect with dealers. That only came after activists like Glassbreakers’ Eileen Carey aggressively criticized the company demanding change. In some cases, when users would report Facebook Groups or Pages’ posts as violating its policy prohibiting the sale of regulated goods like drugs, the posts would be removed but Facebook would leave up the Pages. This mirrors some of the problems it’s had with Infowars around determining the threshold of posts inciting violence or harassing other users necessary to trigger a Page or profile suspension or deletion.

Facebook in some cases deleted posts selling drugs but not the Pages or Groups carrying them

Before all these changes, users could find tons of vendors illegally selling opioids through posts, photos, and Pages on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook also introduced a new ads policy last week requiring addiction treatment centers that want to market to potential patients be certified first to ensure they’re not actually dealers preying on addicts.

Much of the recent criticism facing Facebook has focused on it failing to prevent election interference, privacy scandals, and the spread of fake news, plus how hours of browsing its feeds can impact well-being. But its negligence regarding illegal opioid sales has likely contributed to some of the 72,000 drug overdose deaths in America last year. It serves as another example of how Facebook’s fixation on the positive benefits of social networking blinded it to the harsh realities of how its service can be misused.

Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that learning of the depths of the opioid crisis was the “biggest surprise” from his listening tour visiting states across the U.S, and that it was “really saddening to see.” The fact that he called this a “surprise” when some of the drugs causing the crisis were changing hands via his website is something Facebook hasn’t fully atoned for, nor done enough to stop. The new changes should be the start of a long road to recovery for Facebook itself.

Facebook Helps You Fight Your Social Media Addiction

Facebook is launching new tools to help you manage your time on Facebook and Instagram. The idea is to inform users how much time they’re spending on Facebook and Instagram, and give them the tools they need to make social media great again. Do You Use Facebook and Instagram to Excess? While many of us only check social networks occasionally, some people are hooked on them. Facebook has decided to do something to help those individuals, and, as detailed in this Facebook Newsroom post, it’s introducing tools to help you manage your time. Both apps are getting an activity dashboard,…

Read the full article: Facebook Helps You Fight Your Social Media Addiction

Facebook is launching new tools to help you manage your time on Facebook and Instagram. The idea is to inform users how much time they’re spending on Facebook and Instagram, and give them the tools they need to make social media great again.

Do You Use Facebook and Instagram to Excess?

While many of us only check social networks occasionally, some people are hooked on them. Facebook has decided to do something to help those individuals, and, as detailed in this Facebook Newsroom post, it’s introducing tools to help you manage your time.

Both apps are getting an activity dashboard, a daily reminder to stop using the app after a set amount of time, and a new way of limiting notifications. All of these tools are entirely optional, and purely designed to help those people who feel they need them.

To access the Facebook activity dashboard, click Settings, and then tap “Your Time on Facebook”. To access the Instagram activity dashboard, click Settings, and then tap “Your Activity”. You’ll then see a dashboard showing you how long you spend using the app.

From here, you can set a daily reminder which will trigger an alert when you’ve been using the app for an amount of time of your choosing. By tapping Notification Settings, you can also “Mute Push Notifications” for any length of time between 15 minutes and 8 hours.

Don’t Quit, Just Manage Your Time Better

While this may look like an altruistic move, the truth is a little more complicated than that. People are waking up to the fact that social media can have a negative impact on their lives, and some are choosing to quit Facebook altogether as a result.

By offering up tools that allow users to manage their time on social networks, Facebook must be hoping to dissuade people from quitting altogether. And it might just work. After all, getting an addiction under control, is surely preferable to going cold turkey.

Read the full article: Facebook Helps You Fight Your Social Media Addiction

Google slowly lifting ban on addiction center ads after adding vetting process

Google will soon allow ads to run on addiction-related keywords and phrases after a nearly year-long ban instituted to crack down on shady providers cashing in on vulnerable patients. A small group of providers vetted by a third party have been approved by the company to appear in results for searches like “help quitting pills” or “meth addiction.”

Google will now allow ads to run on addiction-related keywords and phrases after a nearly year-long ban instituted to crack down on shady providers cashing in on vulnerable patients. A small group of providers vetted by a third party have been approved by the company to appear in results for searches like “help quitting pills” or “meth addiction.”

The ban on these ads was rolled out in stages starting in September of last year in the U.S. and going global in January. It was provoked by a series of reports showing that people looking for help were being essentially traded like commodities and sent to incredibly expensive “addiction centers” that often provided little recovery help at all.

At the time Google pledged to keep the ban in place until it could find a way to reintroduce ads safely and ethically, and it has taken its time doing so. All addiction-related ad words were shut off completely, and while this introduced problems of its own (people searching for “help quitting pills” don’t want the WebMD page for addiction) it was probably the only logical choice.

Following this, Google partnered with LegitScript, a Portland company that specializes in verifying medicine-related businesses online. It has a 15-point checklist to make sure businesses are licensed and compliant, list medications and treatment plans, demonstrate qualifications and professionalism (i.e. not a quack operating out of their living room), have no shady history or what have you and so on. The whole list is here.

Only recovery and addiction centers vetted by LegitScript will be allowed to run ads against addiction-related queries on Google.

Recovery Centers of America (RCA), which has a handful of facilities around the country, is one of the first wave of approved advertisers.

“What they were trying to get rid of were these ‘lead aggregators’ that were posing as treatment centers, but were basically selling the patients,” said RCA’s director of marketing strategy and operations, Grant McClernon. “They wanted people who were operating under state scrutiny, providing real treatment.”

“It was a wild wild west out there,” added Bill Koroncai, the company’s director of communications. “So we support Google’s work to weed out the unethical providers in the industry.”

They explained that Google originally planned to greenlight 30 providers — which is to say facilities, of which a provider like RCA might have just one or dozens — but they were inundated with applications and had to expand the first wave of the program to closer to 100.

That’s not necessarily indicative of a rush on Google’s part; it seems more likely that the larger number turned out to be the realistic one if most regions and most needs were to be served. With 30 facilities you wouldn’t even have one in every state.

Addiction treatment providers won’t be treated any differently from other keyword purchasers, except that there will have to be a yearly check-up process through LegitScript to make sure they’re still worthy of being included.

It’s probably wise that Google didn’t get into the vetting process itself; this sets an easier precedent for the ad giant in that when conflicts like this one come up, it doesn’t have to hire a specialized team dedicated to combating fraud in that specific domain.

A Google representative said that ads should start running as soon as the companies paying for them are certified, which could be right now depending on the region and keyword.