I never update the apps on my iPhone. Until WhatsApp locks me out or Instagram launches a Stories update I really, really want, I'll happily go on ignoring that growing update indicator on my App Store icon. And as for full iOS updates, who has time or patience to sit through all of that restarting? But having heard about what's to come with the new iOS 12 update, I'm certain that I'll be downloading it as soon as that alert pings up.
No, it's not because I'll finally be able to turn my face into an Animoji (although I'm psyched about that too)—it's because I just can't wait to implement its new Screen Time feature. Apple announced it earlier this week, and the new app is set to help us take control of the time we spend on our screens. Although there's not a tonne of information available just yet, it seems as though the new app will have the function to record and analyse how much time we spend on our iPhones and iPads, breaking it down into time spent on social media, emails, internet, etc. It'll also record how much of this digital usage is after bedtime. I have a feeling I'm about to find out just how serious my mindless Instagram scrolling habit is.
The new app will be able to show you how your day of screen time stacks up against previous days. It'll also alert you when it's time to turn your phone off, which is determined by a time limit you choose. Reached your Facebook-minutes quota for the day? The app will prompt you to switch off with a stern message.
I know it sounds a bit Big Brother-y, and in a time where we're trying to minimise the data that exists about ourselves (thank you, GDPR), the thought of recording all of these otherwise flippant activities does, of course, incite a little bit of internal conflict. But having had time to really digest the matter, I'm actually really excited about it.
When we held our #DigitalDetox day back in March, I'll admit, I found avoiding the urge to reach for my phone really tricky. I'm well aware that I have wasted so many hours of my life stalking friends of friends of friends of friends on Instagram, watching videos of cysts being obliterated and reading too many weird and wonderful comments in the most random Facebook groups. So I'm certain that seeing this habit tangibly mapped out in fancy charts and graphs will finally help me get ahold on my digital dependency.
Plus, I know how detrimental too much time in front of a phone can be to our mental health too—not only for the constant comparison social media incites but also because the feeling of being connected 24/7 is pretty overwhelming. That's why I give major props to Apple for developing this feature. It might seem counterintuitive for a tech brand to encourage us to switch off, but its finally assuming responsibility and using its influence for the greater good.
Until the new iOS 12 update arrives in autumn, I'll try my best to read more books (I'm loving this one right now, FYI) and spend more time outside in the sunshine without feeling the need to document every minute on Insta Stories. Wish me luck.