Reducing How Much Time You Spend on Your Phone

Recently introduced into Android, Digital Wellbeing is a way for users to more easily see how much they are using their device, how much time they spend on different apps, and ways to reduce that use or make it less intrusive to their lives.

This feature was introduced in Android 9 (pie), so if you are using an older version of the OS, you might not have it installed. You can, however, get it from the Play Store.

If your Galaxy is running version 9 of Android, you will be able to find it in the main settings of your device, where it has its own section. If you have installed the Digital Wellbeing app from Google, you can find it in the main app drawer of your phone or tablet.

Open Digital Wellbeing and you will immediately see a circular chart showing your total time on your device, broken up into sections showing individual apps (Facebook, Google Play Store, etc.,) You can tap the time in the centre to see a weekly chart of your usage.

If you tap any of the app names around the chart, you can see a weekly chart of your usage for that app. At the top of these charts, you can change the display from “Screen time” to “Notifications received” or “Times opened” to see different usage information.

Below the main chart, you can see the total number of unlocks (how many times you have opened your phone, or opened apps on your phone) and total notifications for the day so far. You can tap either number to see a break-down of each (e.g. “12 email notifications”).

If you think you are using an app too much, you can set a timer for it. This gives you a set amount of time each day that you can use the app for (30 minutes, for example). When the time runs out, the app locks, the icon greys out, and you can’t use it again until the next day.

To set a timer, click on the app in the unlocks or notifications list, and then tap the “App timer” option below the usage chart. From the menu that appears, choose a set timer, or tap Custom to choose a different time limit. The timer begins from the next time you open that app.

You can see an overview of your set timers in the Dashboard section of the Digital Wellbeing home screen. You can cancel, reset or edit timers from this screen at any time. You cannot set timers for important system apps such as the clock or the Google Play Store.

If you don’t want to go as far as locking apps on a timer, you can use the notification settings to reduce the amount of times (or the urgency with which) you are distracted by your phone. There are several notification settings you can change to help with this.

The final tool is Wind Down. This is designed to help reduce usage before you sleep. By turning on Wind Down, either manually or on a schedule, notifications can be stopped and the screen can be changed to greyscale, reducing blue light and, hopefully, making it easier to sleep.

Find more guides like this in…

Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

Related Articles

Back to top button