Madison Polkowitz / Gavel Media

Nice Try, Apple: Screen Time Feature Won't Keep Us off Our Phones

With the launch of Apple’s iOS 12 in September came the new screen time feature, aimed at helping iPhone users regain control of the amount of time spent locked into their phones. This new feature shows users how much time they spend on their phone by logging total hours and minutes, as well as breaking down the amount of time spent on specific apps. Once a week, users are sent a notification with their total screen time for that week.

Additionally, the notification includes a percentage that shows whether the amount of time spent on one's phone has gone up or down from the week before. Not only does the app tell users how much time they spend on their phones, it also allows people to set daily time limits for apps within certain categories, such as social media like Instagram or Facebook.

I’m not a tech savvy person. The new update feature is interesting, but I think it is important for another reason. It is necessary for our society to take a step back to look at how smartphones have become so central in our everyday lives. While walking between classes on campus, students seem to be glued to their phones—sometimes to the point where they bump into other people glued to their screens. I am guilty of this myself. I do take the time to look at my weekly screen time reports, but I probably will walk out of my dorm after writing this and pull out my phone to snap my friends back in Minnesota or read a new e-mail from a professor.

It has almost become second nature in times of boredom or awkwardness to pull out our phones. So how can we possibly limit technology in our lives? It is everywhere, so it would be incredibly challenging, almost impossible, to drastically reduce the amount of time we spend on our phones.

Though I do appreciate Apple’s effort in trying to help people limit the time spent on phones, I don’t think that it will be successful in doing so. This society has become so reliant on our phones that my generation, consisting of those born from 1995 to 2012, has been coined the nickname iGen. Even more shocking, the number of Americans with iPhones has increased by 42% between 2011 and 2016. By launching screen time as a way to help users be aware of the time they spend on their phones, Apple is trying to clean and cover up its own mess.

With many new advances still to come, this new screen time feature will continue to exist. However, it will also continue to be ineffective in prompting people to spend less time glued to their phone screens. This addiction that we have developed for our smartphones has become so massive that we are the only ones who can fix it. It is far too large of a problem for a simple iPhone feature to fix.

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