How much time do we spend on our devices? 👩🏽‍💻⏰

I love human data and human behavior. Every single day we make thousands of small choices that can affect so many things in our day-to-day lives. How much sleep we get, how much water we are drinking, whether or not we use a turn signal, checking our phones, which apps we use, why we use them. All of that fascinates me. In my different roles that I’m in and have been a part of, this has been a common theme. I love figuring out why we are the way we are and how the things we do can impact us. I have been itching to write this post for a long time but didn’t know how to measure it. I run little experiments or logs on myself to see what I’m doing, why am I doing it, and what I can do better. I’m analyzing my own data because I want to find better ways to live my life and I think we should all be more aware of ourselves and technology can capture that and SHOW US. The excitement is oozing from my pores, that might be coffee but ANYWAYS.

I am a freelance data and creative consultant, a content creator, an online student, and a program coordinator, and a millennial who is very addicted to my devices. I’ll be honest, it’s pretty bad but I am empowered to do better. I can’t go a day without checking my phone, my feeds, my million task lists, or my email. I spend a lot of time on my phone for work but also for pleasure. I was listening to a podcast titled, Attention Please, over the summer because my addiction to my phone got way out of hand. I’d catch myself being on my phone during dinners or hanging out with my friends because I was obsessed and it was starting to really affect those around me so I wanted to do better for myself and for those relationships. These devices offer us instant gratification and they are designed that way for a reason. App designers intentionally create apps to be more addicting. The more time you spend on these tools, the more money they make and the more information companies get about you. It’s in their best interest to keep you engaged. I think that’s why algorithms are built the way they are. From a business perspective, it makes sense but the consumers are the ones in danger because we have so many young kids and people being addicted to these devices at an early age. I’ve always believed that technology usage is a choice but honestly, tech companies don’t make it easier not to choose it since social media and content platforms are such a staple in our culture.

Being immersed in the technology world, this is so fascinating to me. Even if you’re not a techie, be aware these things are happening for a reason. I was also reading this book called Everybody Lies, which I think everyone should read techie or not. Oh my god, I LOVE THIS BOOK. Please read it, just trust me. This book basically reveals the truth behind assumptions we make on human behavior. The author, Seth Stephens, uses Google search data to prove that. What’s super interesting about is that people will lie on surveys, but when you’re alone and are only keying into a blank field, you’re very honest and that honesty reveals so much about our behaviors. I won’t spoil his findings but honestly, this book and that podcast and also my own experience inspired me to write this. Plus, I’m a total data nerd so this is up my ally.

Apple recently launched a new update that had the feature ScreenTime which monitors how much time you spend on your phone. This is what I used to track all of this data. I think this feature is a long time coming  ☕ but it’s here now! What’s great is that this feature also allows you to set restrictions for yourself or your family. I think that’s great for parents who want to limit their child’s screen time but also good for anyone else who may not have enough willpower 🙋🏽‍♀️

The Experiment 👩🏽‍💻

I enabled the ScreenTime feature on my iPhone (where I spend 75% of my technology usage, if not more). I didn’t set any parameters or anything on myself. This is over a weeks time because the feature on the iPhone doesn’t have a monthly usage tracker (rude).  My week is Sunday – Saturday which is what Apple says what a week is.

I just wanted to know: How much time do I spend on my device? What do I spend the most time doing? Am I using my phone mostly for work? and the last question, how can I do better?

** These numbers or stats have not been manipulated in anyway shape or form. This is merely to know more about myself and how I can stop using my phone more and just to gain more insight into my own experience.

Here’s What I Found: 

I have spent 54 hours and 13 minutes this week on my device.
I have spent 12 of those hours on Youtube, 10 hours and 4 mins on Instagram, and 7 hours 33 minutes on iMessage. Let me put that into perspective. I rounded some of the figures up (iMessage to 8 hours).

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Made this in Canva(not sponsored)

I… don’t even know what to say. By the way, I didn’t look at this until today (the day I wrote this). I spend a lot of time on Youtube. I use Youtube as a way to decompress but I had no idea that’s where most of my time goes to. I watch a ton of different things (clearly). I am kind of embarrassed, to be honest. Let’s just say, this whole experience humbled me for sure. The Instagram makes sense because I do help people with their social media accounts and insights so I check on their pages several times a day. I’m surprised iMessage isn’t at least number 2 but it makes sense. But this insight gives me a lot to think about. Since I’ve been in the Bay Area, I don’t know my way around and I’ve had a lot of meetings in San Fran and also just love exploring so I thought that was interesting. Waze > Google Maps > Apple Maps (don’t @ me).

Let’s keep going… ScreenTime breaks it up into Categories which is nice.

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Again, social networking is not surprising to me AT ALL. You can drill down further into what apps they consider to be social networking. My top 3 are Instagram, Messages, and Twitter. It also shows you when you spent time on your devices the most. Mine was Friday, Monday, Tuesday. Note: I am writing this around 1 pm PST so Saturday’s data isn’t completely accurate.

Another interesting feature is the Notifications. ScreenTime shows you how many notifications you get. As you can see, I get mostly iMessages and Emails. I do get a lot of Canvas notifications. I get around 200 notifications a day. I don’t know if that’s a lot in comparison to others but it’s just interesting to me to get an actual figure. In this notification section, you can change how notifications appear on your phone which is a smart feature. Kudos to whoever designed these dashboards. Very user-friendly and informative. Huge fan. Looks a lot similar to Instagram Insights, although I wish IG was more in-depth but whatever. After seeing this, I do want to push more email messages but I respond to those mostly on my laptop. I wonder if Screentime is available on the Macs. Now, THAT would be very interesting.
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Now I have this insight. What’s next?

  • I definitely need to cut back on watching Youtube. I am going to implement the limit feature it has and I don’t like taking my laptop with me when I am trying to sleep. I usually get my laptop from my bag in the mornings to work but not at bedtime.
  • I could set a time limit on Instagram it just makes it a little dicey since clients do rely on me to check their insights and their accounts.
  • I spend 2+ Days on my phone every week which is not good so I want to reframe from that. Now that I know where most of my time is being spent, I can make adjustments accordingly.
  • I want to find more time to be away from my device and cut it off completely. The emails, Youtube videos, or texts can wait so I should spend more time away from my devices in general.

This information was actually really beneficial to me. This is another way we can all use our data to improve our lives. Behavior data is really interesting and this tiny experiment you can try on yourself. If you do, please please let me know so we can share thoughts.

Thank you all so much for listening. I had the best time writing this post, I’ve been itching to write this for a long time and I am so happy I was able to do it. If you want more data posts like this, I’d love to keep finding ways. THIS WAS SO FUN I LOVE WRITING STUFF LIKE THIS.

What does your ScreenTime look like?

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