A popular app can now show students how much screen time they use daily
BY Lyndsey Warren
The atrium of Red River College is buzzing with students during a mid-day class change. A group of them are sitting around a circular table. Three of the five students are swiping away on their phone screens as they talk. The other two have their phones sitting right in front of them.
Do students prefer to interact with their smartphones more than they interact with actual humans?
A smartphone app called Moment – Screen Time Tracker, developed by Kevin Holesh, is out there for people who are interested in tracking their screen time each day. This app monitors how much a person uses their phone, which apps are opened the most and logs how long a person’s screen is on to the minute.
When a person opens the app, they are met with the exact time they have been on their phone that day, and if they are in the green, yellow or red zone for usage.
“It embarrasses me that all my days are red,” said Jody Cutting, a 27-year-old nursing student at the University of Manitoba. “I know I use my phone all of the time, but to see it documented makes it feel a lot worse. One day it said I was on my phone for almost 7 hours, that’s basically an entire day of work.”
Prior to downloading the Moment app, Cutting estimated she would average between three and four hours a day on her phone.
“The app was super helpful because it let me track my usage. Honestly, I thought I used my phone more so checking the app was kind of refreshing,” said Red River College student Mykila Paquette, 21, who is currently studying Business Administration. “My usage tended to stay relatively consistent in the yellow.”
The app also allows for the smartphone owner to track how many times they picked their phone up that day, as well the exact times they used it.
Is phone usage contributing negatively to student’s mental health?
In a new report called #StatusOfMind, published by the Royal Society for Public Health and featured on psychalive.org, people surveyed between the ages of 14-24 said that various social media platforms cause anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and an altered body-image.
Michelle Carbonneau, 27, a student in hair and beauty school when asked about how she feels social media and phone use affects her mental health she responded, “looking at my phone makes me feel not good enough and frankly, sad. On a good day, I can look through beauty accounts and feel inspired and connected to my industry, but the cons sometime outweigh the pros. Most of what we see on social media and our phones is just a fragment of what that person’s life is actually like. But sometimes I forget that.”
The Winnipeg School Division (WSD) said they believe there is a place in school for smart devices. According to the WSD, “Smartphones and devices are now key tools for students and teachers to access, use and produce educational resources. Winnipeg School Division supports responsible use of technology to enhance the education process.”
In programs such as Red River College’s Creative Communications program, smartphone use and skills are widely encouraged.
“We need to use our phones to go on Twitter in class sometimes and to discuss assignments on Facebook. It makes it hard to escape the stresses of our program sometimes.” Said Taylor Fenn, a first year Cre Comm student. “I feel like I have a whole new-found reliance for my phone. I am always worried I am going to miss some instructions that have been discussed on our online forums. I don’t feel like I really ever get a break from my phone anymore.”
Tracking how many times your phone lights up with Moment can be a wakeup call to some students. An important aspect to understanding a problem is awareness and the app helps students become aware and quantify how many hours are actually using their phone. However, it is up to students to take this knowledge and begin managing their phone time however they feel fits their lifestyle best, no app can do that for them.