These 4 apps help you stop being a smartphone zombie

We are a nation addicted to our smartphones and it’s causing havoc, not only to us, but to those around us, too.
Richard Heasman
October 1, 2018

Ever found yourself walking across the road, head down gazing into your smartphone, until being horrifically brought back to reality by an angry van driver waving his fist at you? Well - you aren't alone. We are a nation addicted to our smartphones and it’s causing havoc, not only to us, but to those around us, too.

According to a study conducted in 2017 by Deloitte, more than half of the 4,150 16-75-year-olds surveyed admitted to using their phone while crossing the road. The issue has become so serious that a government transport minister has suggest road signs now be placed on the ground for the “zombie pedestrians”.

The issue isn’t just present here in the UK either. Honolulu last year introduced fines of $35 (£26.70) for pedestrians caught crossing the road while looking at their phones. In the US last year, 6,000 pedestrian deaths were associated with people using their smartphones while either walking across the road or driving on it.

Struggling to sleep? Your phone could be why

The impact of smartphones goes beyond zombifying us. According to the same Deloitte study, 66% of 16-19 year olds check their phones in the middle of the night, with 26% of them actually responding to messages after they have fallen asleep. 55% of general respondents check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up, with 75% of people checking their phone within the last hour of the day.

So what effect does this have on us? One major impact is how well we sleep. A 2008 study funded by mobile phone companies showed that people exposed to mobile phone radiation took longer to fall into deep sleep.

"The study indicates that during laboratory exposure to 884 MHz wireless signals, components of sleep believed to be important for recovery from daily wear and tear are adversely affected," the study concluded.

The impact goes beyond being radiated, too:

  • Mental stimulation – One of the most simple but important reasons technology affects our sleep is cognitive stimulation. As your brain revs up, its electrical activity increases and neurons start to race - the exact opposite of what should be happening before sleep.
  • Stress response - A second reason has to do with your body: The physical act of responding to a video game or even an email makes your body tense. As you get stressed, your body can go into a “fight or flight” response, and as a result, cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland, is released, creating a situation hardly conducive to sleep.
  • Blue light - Additionally, the small amounts of blue light from these devices passes through the retina into a part of the hypothalamus (the area of the brain that controls several sleep activities) and delays the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.

4 apps to help you regain control

1.AppDetox, Free for Android

With AppDetox you can apply individual rules for usage on an app-by-app basis. Exceeded the usage time? The app then gets locked until the following day.

2. Hold, Free for Android & iPhone

Specifically for students, Hold rewards its users with cash back, discounts and free stuff like cinema tickets, food, drinks and events.

3. Freedom, Free for iPhone & iPad

Similar to AppDetox, Freedom allows you to create blocklists and schedule time away from apps that consume too much of your time.

4. InMoment, £10 per month for iPhone & Android

InMoment focusses on your social media habits and tracks your interactions with apps like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can then apply limits specifically for these apps.

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