This story is published on a Saturday morning. Tomorrow, millions and millions of iPhone owners will receive an early warning that details how many hours they spent looking at their phones last week. If you tap it, you can see a breakdown, down to the minute, of the time you spent each day typing and cooling, glassy eyes on Twitter or TikTok or whatever you use to stay informed or forget. The bars will show the percentage of time you spent in apps, broken down by categories such as entertainment and productivity, and the specific apps you used the most. Do not touch.
Better yet, completely disable this notification for a while. If you’re using an Android device instead, turn off its corresponding digital wellness features. There is a time and place to closely monitor your screen time, but this is clearly not the case.
The truth is, although well-intentioned, these time-dedicated features are – although, right? – in a Covid-19 world, they amount to weekly harassment. You have something to worry about! A reminder that you looked at a 240% more gadget last week than before will make you look less the next week. It just gives you one more thing to feel bad about at a time when nothing is feeling particularly good. It scolds your escape when you most desperately need it.
Apart from that! Screen time per se is not necessarily harmful these days. Yes, you should avoid getting sucked into a coronavirus news vortex. Take it easy on Twitter if possible. For the love of God, turn off your notifications before the constant buzzing drives you crazy. But remember, screens have also been shown to reduce anxiety, especially in children. And with most of the country under strict on-site shelter orders, it’s not like you have culturally enriching alternatives at your disposal. When you have had enough of your book, you take your smartphone. That’s it or look at the wall.
And even if you try to take your phone off these days, you can do it without a weekly guilt trip. It’s time to relax. Here’s how.
Disable iPhone screen time
If you want to keep screen time but turn off notifications, go to Settings, then Notificationsand scroll down and press Screen time. From there, switch Allow disabled notifications. You are free!