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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Putting a stop to mobile addiction

Shweta Taneja, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh , July 06, 2014
First Published: 11:34 IST(6/7/2014) | Last Updated: 11:41 IST(6/7/2014)

In May, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans) opened a first of- its-kind clinic in the country—a centre to treat teenagers’ obsession with social networking, instant chatting apps, texting and mobile games. In other words, addiction to mobile phones.

Though there have not been any formal studies on how addicted we are to the little black device in our hands, most of us show symptoms of what some psychologists cautiously call mobile-phone overuse— checking the phone every few minutes, fidgeting with it in public spaces and parties, and becoming impatient or worried if we’ve left it at home. Don’t believe it?

These apps will help you understand how addicted you are to your phone.

MY MOBILE DAY

Süleyman Kuzula, a 26-yearold Turkish engineer based in Germany, created My Mobile Day because he felt that people, especially children, were on the way to becoming “mobile phone zombies”.

“My app can help people organize their mobile phone and control their own behaviour of mobile use,” says Kuzula.

Launched in January, My Mobile Day tracks the time you spend on each app on your phone. You can set a time interval to record and then see the running time of each app and even post the result on your social networks.

Every week, the app presents you with a graphic visualization of 10most used and 10 least used apps, showing you howmany minutes have been spent on a particular app, so you can uninstall the ones you don’t use. It also shows you apps used according to categories—social, productivity apps, games or travel apps—making it easier for you to see what kind of apps take up your time.

No registration is required. All you have to do is download the app and push a button to start it, and it will quietly do its job.

BREAKFAST

Created by Mumbai based app development company Mobifolio in January, BreakFree is the brainchild of Mrigaen Kapadia and his wife Nupur Kapadia. They realized that both of them, as well as their family and friends, were hooked to their smartphones.

“We thought it would be nice to have something on the phone which could monitor how addicted you are to your phone and show the facts to you, and so BreakFree was born,” says Kapadia. BreakFree scores you on addiction, letting you track the time you spend on the phone and compete with friends and family to reduce phone dependency.

“We call it the two-step process,” explains Mrigaen. “The first step is to make our users realize how addicted they are to their phones.” This is done with the help of statistics like an addiction score, frequency of phone unlocks, phone usage, app usage and timely notifications when they go overboard, crossing the limit they have set for themselves.

“The second step helps them in reducing their phone dependency by tools like switching off the Internet, sound, soft notification by a cute cartoon character if you are overusing your phone, rejecting phone calls, or scheduling BreakFree hours,” says Mrigaen. The app has been downloaded about 45,000 times so far.

MENTHAL

Launched earlier this year, the beta version of Menthal was the outcome of a project at the University of Bonn, Germany, which studied the smartphone habits of 40 students for six weeks.

After the results of the study, Alexander-Markowetz, the assistant professor of computer science leading the project, decided to openup the study and develop a free app for it.

Menthal tracks howmuch time you spend on your phone and which apps consume most of your attention, and delivers metrics for you by day, week and month. It also tells you which app was used how often and howmany times you flicked on your screen. Finally, it gives you an “MS core”, which you can compare with the averages available fromthe world over, or with your friends via Facebook. Using this app will help you, and the psychologists at Bonn, understand smartphone usage.

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