This past semester, I completed a semester-long project tracking my own smartphone usage. In the beginning, I made some guesses about how much time I spend on my phone per day. After tracking my use, I found that my assumptions were way off. And not in a good way.
If you think you don't spend that much time on your phone — like I used to think — you very well may be wrong. If you're interested in finding out your true smartphone use, here are some ways as to how.
You don't even need to download an app to see some basic information regarding your smartphone use.
Simply navigate to settings on your iPhone, and scroll down to "Battery." Under "Battery Usage," you'll find the option to view how your battery usage is being used either in the last 24 hours or the last seven days. If you click on the little clock next to the "Last 7 Days" button, you will be available to view the amount of time you spend on each app. It'll look something like this:
Looking at this screen at least once a week puts things into perspective for me. I've spent over three hours looking at Snapchat. By my standards, that sounds insane.
While everyone's smartphone usage is different, as is everyone's standards for what is an acceptable amount of smartphone usage, I still think it's valuable to see the actual numbers instead of just relying on your own personal estimates.
For my project, I estimated that I picked up my phone roughly 50 times a day. I then installed a way to track exactly that.
I downloaded the app Moment to track my smartphone usage with much greater detail than the iPhone itself can offer. It is free to download, although you can choose to make in-app purchases for more detailed features and services. But I kept it at its most basic, free version and let it run in the background of my phone for two months straight. This means not closing the app while closing out all other open apps, which took at least a week of practice for me to stop doing out of habit.
The numbers Moment collected were truly shocking.
One of Moment's best features, in my opinion, is that it can track the number of times you pick up your phone, whether it be just to check the time or to actually use your phone. I think most of us can acknowledge we have a habit of checking our phone even if we don't expect a notification. If I'm anxiously awaiting a text back or an important phone call, I hit my phone's home button much more often than I usually do.
But even when I have nothing, in particular, going on I like to make sure no one is trying to contact me.
Most of us have also probably been victims of phantom vibration syndrome, where you could have sworn you felt your phone vibrate in your pocket, but when you pull it out, you have no notifications. Whatever the reason, Moment found that I checked my phone anywhere from 24 on my busiest days to 137 some days.
While I decided against it, Moment has the option to set daily limits for screen time and number of pickups and will send you push notifications when you are nearing your limit or go over it — if you're serious about limiting your smartphone usage. But if you are just interested in your iPhone habits, I would recommend downloading the app for at least a month to gather enough data.
These are certainly not the only two ways to track your smartphone usage, but they are the ones I am most familiar with. I found them easy to use and the data easy to analyze. There are also apps available for Android users. Happy tracking!