If smartphones are the new cigarettes, then Apple’s new Screen Time feature is the new nicotine patch (Fowler, 2018).
The new iOS 12, includes a Screen Time feature that allows users to better manage their relationship with technology by setting time limits on specific apps.
It allows you access to real-time information in relation to how much you’re using your device and specifically which apps you use the most.
By acknowledging how much time we spend on our devices we are able to self-analyse and limit our screen time accordingly.
The feature increases the level of awareness to users, giving power back to the individual behind the device (Muller, 2018).
What does this have to do with our Sleep?
Mobile phones, computers and TV’s emit blue light, and this exposure prevents a restful sleep. The light from screens affect the melatonin production giving the body the impression you aren’t ready for sleep. This sends signals to your brain that it is still daytime, which is problematic as it doesn’t allow your body to relax.
Research strongly suggests that we reduce our screen consumption at least 1-2 hours before bedtime, to ensure uninterrupted sleep. With Apple’s latest iOS release, now our phones are limiting screen time for us.
We first saw apple taking interest in our sleep when ‘Night Shift’ made its appearance in the iOS software. This technology lowered the lighting of the iPhone a few hours before bed time to prevent the amount of blue light emitted (Gould, 2018).
How Screen Time works:
When you check your Screen Time reports, the graph shows how much time you’ve spent on your phone during the day and the week. From here you can breakdown the time to spending on specific apps and see how many times you pick up your phone in an hour.
You can set daily time limits for app categories ie) social networking. When you have reached your limit, a notification pops up “You’ve reached your limit.” You can choose to ignore your limit if you wish to continue browsing or delay for 15 minutes.
If you really want to protect your time, there is also a setting that lets you lock your screen time settings so that any time you try to change the time limit, you’ll have to enter a passcode (Ceres 2018).
The launch of this software is throwing around buzzwords such as “digital wellness”, “mindfulness” and “conscious choices.” This new feature is a tool to help form healthy habits in relation to your iPhone. It’s a step towards lowering the technology addiction.
The relationship between technology and sleep is an ongoing study, however, what we do know is that by reducing time on our screens we will have a better night’s sleep.
Ultimately it’s up to us, but being empowered with tools and the knowledge of how much time we’re spending on our phones is key, to changing our habits and increasing awareness of the potential sleep hindering behaviour (Thrive Global, 2018).