I know, I love tech and the internet, but let’s be honest—sometimes it’s smart to take a break every now and again. Smartphones are fun and useful, but it can be a good idea to set them down and take care of other things. Many people can find themselves using their phones much more than they actually want to, feeling obligated to check apps that people expect them to be on all day, every day, which can be very stressful. Also, too much screen usage might just be damaging your eyes, according to BBC Newsbeat. Of course, I’m in no way suggesting you stop altogether or cut back more than necessary, but why not take some small breaks? It can make being connected even more fun when you’re not bogged down by how much you need to use your phone every day. I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes feel like I’m tied to my phone, and I just don’t enjoy it as much then. What’s really great is that you can even take advantage of fun or pretty tech while you’re doing it. Some apps make turning off your phone much less painful than you’d expect. Here are just a few ways to encourage yourself to turn off the screen for a little bit!
Forest is an app that’s available on iOS and through Google Play. Forest makes turning your phone off enjoyable by letting you grow trees and feel like you’re being rewarded for lessening your screen time. With Forest, you plant trees in the app, and when your phone is off, your trees begin to grow. If you close the app to do other things, your tree dies. Each tree you plant has a countdown timer, and you have to leave the app open until the countdown ends to let your tree finish growing. Eventually you’ll have a whole forest of trees, which gives you a lovely visual representation of how much time you’ve been able to take away from phone usage. Also, you can earn coins while using Forest, and you can then spend those coins so that Forest makes a donation to Trees for the Future, an organization that plants trees. Forest is a great way to make turning off your phone feel really productive. Check out their website for more information!
FocusNow is similar to Forest in many ways. Specifically, you grow trees while you’re not using your phone, which is the core of Forest. FocusNow is available on iOS and lets you connect with other FocusNow players by sharing your habits and encouraging each other. Growing your trees (by using a countdown timer and keeping the app open) leads to what FocusNow calls a “farm castle,” a lovely area full of plant life and pretty castles. You can add your “good habits” to a list in the app and receive reminders to keep up with these habits. If Forest isn’t for you, or if you like the idea of maintaining good habits through the app, check out FocusNow for iOS!
Unplug is an iOS app that adds a little bit of personal goal-setting to shutting off your screen. You can set limits for how much time you spend on your phone, and the app helps you keep track of just how much you’ve used your phone. It also shows how many times you’ve unlocked your phone each day. It can display your stats in different ways that might suit you. What makes it rewarding is that you can build up a collection of trophies, collect points, and go on “streaks” of good phone use behavior. There may not be any growing plants, but gathering trophies can feel fun and helpful for people who have trouble limiting their phone time. If you like the idea of point-building and trophy-collecting, check out Unplug for iOS!
Pocket Points is an interesting app that rewards users in a different kind of way. Pocket Points is intended to encourage students to turn off their phones during class. While students are on campus, they can open the app, turn their phone off, and build up points while their screens are off. These points can then be exchanged for stuff at places near you. The Pocket Points website lists some of their available businesses, like Insomnia Cookies, Wendy’s, Pita Pit, and Papa John’s, among other places. You can get discounts and other cool promos, as well as just totally free stuff. If you’re a student who wants discounts and free things and is willing to shut off their phone while they’re on campus, you can get Pocket Points for iOS and in the Google Play store. Check out the Pocket Points website for more information!