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Digital Wellness in a Smart Phone Obsessed World

Let’s be honest. We are a society connected to our smart phones. Countless studies exist that analyze how, exactly, we’re using our smart phones. Countless other studies analyze the effects of smart phone use, including brain imbalance, inability to cope with emotional distress, and more.

Here are some quick stats about how we’re using our phones, according to Pew Research Center:

  • 95% of American’s now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%, up from just 35% in Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011.
  • In addition to mobile phones, we’re using other information devices, too. Nearly three quarters of U.S. adults own desktop or laptop computers, while roughly half now own tablet computers and around one-in-five own e-reader devices.
  • One-in-five American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service.
    • Reliance on smartphones for online access is especially common among younger adults, non-whites and lower-income Americans.
  • 45% of teens report being on their phone “almost constantly”.











In an effort to combat smart phone overuse, Apple unveiled a new set of digital wellness features to enable users to curb screen time, at the Worldwide Developer Conference on June 4. The features will launch with iOS 12 software for iPhone and iPad. Here are some of the ways Apple plans to help manage screen time:

Observe how much time you’re spending on your phone

Data nerds, rejoice! The new update will have a ‘Screen Time’ section which will reveal how many hours you’ve actually spent on your phone in the form of daily and weekly activity reports. The reports will be broken down into where you’ve spent most of your time, whether it be games, entertainment or social media.

Photo courtesy of Apple

Setting limits on certain apps

Users will be able to both monitor how time spent on specific apps, but also set time limits for how long apps can be used per day.

More control over notifications

If notifications become a distraction to you, you’ll now be able to turn notifications off or have them delivered straight to the Notification Center.

Another option in controlling notifications – the ability to group notifications together. For example, if you get text messages from four different users, they’ll be lumped under one notification than four separate ones.

Scheduling in downtime

There is also an option for ‘Downtime’ which will allow you to allocate a period of time where notifications won’t appear on the screen. This can be useful during class, meetings, or sleeping hours if you’re a midnight scroller.

Bedtime mode

The ‘Do Not Disturb’ function already exists on iPhones, but Apple touts “enhancements” to the tool. ‘Do Not Disturb’ will dim the display lighting and hide all notifications on the lock screen until the phone is used the next morning. The user can manage specific periods of time, or even locations, when notifications will be displayed in the main Notification Center.



Is the solution that we simply succumb to the fact that our smart phones are beginning to physically fuse to our hands? Not so fast! Here are some ways that we can combat digital dependence, or at least control it to be manageable for our personal lives:

Make specific goals about what you want your relationship with your phone to look like

  • Think beyond how much time you want to spend on your phone each day
  • What activities on your phone do you feel are positive in your life? Which might not be?

Figure out just how much time you’re actually spending on your phone or other devices

  • As we mentioned above, Apple will help us analyze this with the iOS 12 launch, but other productivity tools exist to better understand laptop use.

Visualize, and then put into plan, what you’re going to do with your increased free time

  • Even if you’re simply electing not to use your phone when walking down the street, imagine how refreshing it could feel to practice some mindfulness, take a deep breath, and truly take in your surroundings instead of numbing yourself to it all with your nose in your phone.
  • Maybe you identify an hour before bed where you don’t use your phone – instead, you could:
    • Spend quality time with a friend or family member
    • Read a book
    • Meditate
    • The options really are limitless, and most of them are better than aimlessly scrolling through your phone

Delete social media apps

  • Just consider it- if you’re constantly checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat (the list goes on and on), imagine how much extra time you could make in your day if you only checked these platforms from a laptop. MIND. BLOWN.

Set up a text auto-responder

  • There is no reason to be checking your phone while driving, and Apple has this nifty little capability to automatically send a text auto-response if your iPhone senses that you might be driving. Better yet, this tool can be customized for any situation.


How are you using your phone? Do you feel like you’re using your phone too much? Any personal tips or tricks you utilize to manage screen time?

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  1. Jeanne


    June 5, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Cutting screentime is good, but I think that phones can also be used for good: encouraging exercise, weight loss, meditation.

    1. allison howell

      allison howell

      June 5, 2018 at 9:10 pm

      Indeed! Argument for assessing the relationship you have with your phone versus the relationship you’d like to have. Choose the apps and activities that will encourage better digital, and overall, wellness.

  2. Avatar

    Darryl H. Alvarez

    June 18, 2021 at 2:04 am

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