Pinch me on the arm and punch me in the face because we’re at the end of January and where did that month go?
Like me, perhaps it was a goal of yours to cut down on screen-time this year. Maybe you purged the phone from its constant companion status in your hand. Or locked it in a box and furiously committed you and your family to Screen Free Sundays.
That was certainly the case for me.
I often complained about not having ‘enough’ free time. In reality I was just spending my time mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and other social media timelines. So I deleted the apps.
What came after was an almost magical influx of time. Books were read during my 30-minute commute to work and TV shows and movies were watched. Of course, I eventually relapsed and re-downloaded the apps after a week – maybe less, but now I knew.
That’s when I discovered Moment.
LISTEN: Australian TV Presenter Sophie Falkiner shares her firm rules for reducing screen time in her household. Post continues after audio.
What is Moment?
Moment is like a Fitbit for your phone. It tracks exactly how much time you’re spending on what app, how many times you pick up your phone, and it even compares that to the average of other users.
The app then lets you set a timed daily limit that you want to spend on your phone and then it sends you a reminder every 15 minutes when you go past that allotted time. My daily limit was two hours and 50 minutes, and I got a lot of reminders.
You also have the option of going through in-app programs like Phone Bootcamp - a 14-day course that gives you daily exercises to follow and on-average has reduced user's screen time by one hour and 31 minutes, and Bored & Brilliant which is a seven-day intensive course that is "designed to challenge your ingrained habits around your screen time."
Also, while the app was free, I paid a one-off fee of $4.99 which gives you access to the boot camps and lets you choose not to monitor specific apps - like Spotify, or Sleep Cycle. You can also set up a family account to monitor the daily usage of the entire family and as a parent let's you monitor your family's time on their iPhones and iPads.
Does it work?
Did I feel any massive shift in my phone habits or mental health? To be honest, no. For the most part the constant reminders were annoying and left ignored, and I never had the guts to click the button that would enable my phone to shut down once I hit my time limit.
Despite this, it did make me conscious of my habits. I would make the effort to not take my phone with me everywhere I went and not having that be my go-to when I was bored or restless. Also, I specifically noticed that during periods of anxiety - be that at work or university - I would pick up my phone more. When I realised how long I actually spent on Instagram - which averaged around anywhere from 35-55 minutes a day (baring in mind I use it to engage with news, friends and for work), I definitely found that number quite confronting. Since then I've tried to implement 'Instagram-free days', or at least make an active effort to not have that be the first thing I see in the morning.
The app itself tells you that, "most people underestimate their screen time by about 100 per cent," but also, "your goal isn't to get to zero screen time (not possible), but to get a happy balance of real life moments with some productive screen time sprinkled in." Balance was once again the missing ingredient our all-or-nothing approach to wellness and lifestyle often overlooks.
But, is it worth it?
Yes and no. It's a fact that it's always easier to purchase or download something as a bandaid solution to a problem than to actually 'fix' the habit, and the fact is that the app won't work unless you do. What Moment can do however, is give you the cold, hard, irrefutable data that you are spending too much time on your phone and yes, Instagram is eating into your day waaaay more than it should.
Have you tried the app Moments before? How did you go? Tell us in a comment.
LISTEN: Want some more tips to reduce your screen time? This week the Mamamia Out Loud team have done just that. Plus, a debrief on work rage, the rise of the 'super teen' and pap smears and body shaming. Get it in your ears.