The coronavirus crisis has many people glued to their smartphone screens for more and more hours each day, even if they don’t want to be. In fact, sheltering in place can lead to a nearly 60% increase in the amount of content people consume across all devices, according to a March report from Nielsen.
Even before coronavirus lockdowns and increased time at home leading to more screen time, many people had reported feeling addicted to their smartphones.
More than a quarter of parents and 36% of teens wake up to check their phones at least once at night, and more than half of teens and parents said they feel distracted by their mobile device at least once a day, according to a 2019 report from Common Sense Media.
American teens spent an average of seven hours and 22 minutes on screens each day in 2019 — not including screens used for school work. And that was before the pandemic pushed people’s social lives onto Zoom video chats.
Designed to grab you
There’s a reason why your phone is hard to put down: Those bright red notifications on your phone are designed to capture your attention. Science has revealed that human brains are triggered by things that are bright and shiny. That’s why one of the easiest hacks for combating cell phone overload is to zap the color out of your phone by putting it in grayscale mode.
“Research shows that we as humans are very visually based. We like to engage with visual things, including smartphone screens,” said Daria Kuss, an associate professor of psychology at the UK’s Nottingham Trent University. Kuss specializes in smartphone use and internet addiction.