Are more apps the REAL solution to help us manage our app addictions? 

Scrambling for solutions

I get it.  Companies are scrambling to offer solutions to our tech addiction epidemic.  Internet Addiction Disorder or Internet Gaming Disorder is officially classified within the DSM 5 guidelines. Why not offer apps to help us with apps? Apps to help us with screen addiction? 

Cringe worthy journalism

There are a few things about this recent article that made me cringe.  The least of which is how thin the article is, coming from someone with the words Harvard Business Professor in their title.  There was nothing rich or robust in this article that we don’t already know.  EXCEPT, the copious amount of APPS to help us with our screen addiction. This was new information for me.  Wait, did you just hear me?  YES, we can now download, on our phones, what are called productivity apps to help us with our app usage.  

Are you confused?

Let me help you understand.  Apps are precision engineered to create dependency.  They are designed to feed our neediness. Many application designers are employing behavioral psychologists to nail down how to draw the user back in.  I suppose, as long as you are aware of this attempt to mangle your mind, you might be okay with it.

Typically, I’m pretty impressed. Usually, I commend the tech giants and innovators who continue to keep the phrase, “there’s an app for that”, alive and well.  In this instance, not so much. 

As a result of this app induced addiction, we have a market for other app designers.  These apps are to help you with your app dependency.  

Absolute absurdity!

I have never in my life heard of anything so ridiculous.  So, let me understand this, in order to benefit from the app, that’s supposed to help you get off of an app, requires you to be using an app or be on your phone? It gets better.

The Pros and Cons

Some apps will reward you with all sorts of benefits. These perks can be real and some might be virtual.  Others can punish you. For example, the app can be set up to take $5 out of your credit card or your bank account every time you fall short of your technology goals.  

My favorite, which I will explain in my list of apps, is the one that provides you with a virtual sapling. You can watch it blossom into a beautiful and lush tree when you are hitting your screen time goals or watch it wither and die if you fail miserably.  

There’s an app for that

The idea is these apps will assist in changing our behaviors as it pertains to the addictive properties the phones have on us. While I loathe giving any of these apps publicity, I’d like to share some of these apps with you and tell you how they work.

Beeminder is a goal tracking app.  This company will plot your progress and if you go off track, they take your money. Number 2 on the list is Moment, designed to break your screen addiction through small habit tweaks. The goal is to help you focus on the moments that matter the most, like friends and family. Sad, that we need a reminder for that. 

Flipd  is a distraction-free focus, productivity, and presence app.  When it’s time to focus you turn Flipd on to track your sessions. If you exit, your session will end. 

If I haven’t wet your APPetite yet, there’s more!

Forest is my absolute favorite. (said facetiously) When you download and open Forest, you set a gamified timer.  Once you do this, you have planted a seed in a virtual forest. As time passes and you remain focused on your project or the task at hand, the seed gradually grows into a big healthy tree. If your attention wanders, your tree withers and dies. By the way, all you pay is a mere $1.99.  

Ransomly alters the default setting of a room.  For example, when you enter a dining room, bedroom, or classroom, you become screen free via phone sensor to turn off all devices in that vicinity. 

Freedom,  when used to its fullest potential, costs $6.99/monthly or $29.99/yearly. This app allows you to block distractions.  You may choose from a list the company provides, or you can customize your own distractions. The app can sync your block sessions with other devices such as the iPad, iPhone, and Mac and Windows computers.

Freedom allows you to schedule your blocks or make them recurring. Lastly, there is a locked mode making it more difficult to circumvent blocks in an effort to break your most pernicious habits and addictions. 

Offtime  is yet another app to set up blocks, locks, and increase engagement.  Similar to Freedom, but easier on the bankroll at $.99. Cheaper than going to the Dollar Store. 

How’s it working for ya?

Please, someone out there who reads my blog, be the guinea pig for us and let us know how amazing these products are. I’m intrigued to know how this is working for everyone. Might I point out, these apps are here because people are having difficulty with self-regulation. Right? I mean, if these apps are marketed to adults, than that suggests we are tethered to our phones, and unable to unplug.  

Who are the users?

How do I know these are targeted at adults? Almost every app makes mention of increased productivity while in the office, or working from home.  A few focus on engagement, family time, and being present in the life moments. 

How can our kids manage all of this when WE CAN’T?

I’m going to draw a conclusion for you.  If adults, fully developed brain adults, are struggling with self-regulation, discipline, and how we interact with our electronics, how in the hell can we expect our children to function well? I love media-literacy experts, psychologists, and parents who tout how important it is to teach your child how to have a healthy relationship with screen time. WE CAN’T EVEN DO IT! 

Good Luck!

Listen, if you are an adult and you struggle with engagement, distractions, and addiction to your device, then go for it.  If these apps are going to help you have a more valuable life, far be it for me to deter you from that. But can we at least give our kids a chance to enjoy a footloose and fancy free life? A life that allows them the space to not have to regulate something so sophisticated, WE can’t even handle it?  

I’m all for innovation and in full support of people trying to do positive things to help our device dependent society, but this, this takes the cake.  

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