Confessions of a (minor) phone addict

In an ever changing world, children’s phone and screen usage can be a worry. As a parent, I’m not alone in saying that I worry about how this impacts on my child’s sleep, the amount of physical activity she gets, her mental health and her relationship with me. For the last few months in safefood, we have been working on ideas about how to address that so I have become much more aware of this as an issue.

But, before looking at children’s screen time, I thought it might be worth taking a little time to think about my own. If you are like me, chances are, we are all online a bit too much as well, and what the kids see us do, they’ll do.

Discover how much time we spend online

One quick way to do this is to look at your battery usage on our phone. On an iPhone, just go into Settings, scroll down to Battery, click on the last 24 hours and click the little clock symbol to the right. Here’s what mine looks like over the past 24 hours. Lots of social media scrolling to confess to! On Android, you can do the same (Settings > Battery > Battery usage) and look at the percentage battery use on each app. There isn’t a quick way to convert this to time, but you can click each app to see that.

app usage per battery on iphone

It can be a bit of a shock when you actually start putting minutes against your time on the phone but it’s really worth doing to help you understand what’s really going on. That’s not to say we don’t do lots of useful and enjoyable things on our phones  – checking the weather, email, finding out new information or simply staying in touch with great friends - but maybe there are other things you could have done with that time too.

Are you addicted to your smartphone?

If you want to go a bit deeper into how much time you are spending on your device, there are plenty of apps you can download to do this. Freedom, Space, App Detox, Moment, Checky, Off The Grid, Antisocial – are just some. Just do a quick search in the app stores to see what is available and what might suit you.

I’ve tried Moment and Checky.

Checky simply tells you how often and where you check your phone, so will help you get a handle on that compulsive, checking behaviour. Research from the American Psychological Association show that people who check their phones more tend to be more stressed and more likely to feel disconnected from their family, even when they are together.

Moment provides some terrifying statistics to your average phone addict. These include the average percentage of your waking life that you spend on your phone. A whopping 17% for me, almost 3 hours. It also breaks down how much time you spend on which apps. I do use my phone as a work tool, but still…I’ll have to put my hands up and admit a minor Instagram obsession.

screen time usage on a phone

time per app on a phone

Resolutions and quality family time

As a parent, it’s not easy to see the stark reality of my phone usage in hours and minutes, but I have to say that the experience has made me more aware of my phone usage. I’ve started working on it and am looking for other ways to spend time, and be more active instead, with my daughter. After all, what I do, she’s more likely to do.

For lots of tips and ideas on reducing screen time and becoming more active as a family visit our MakeAStart website.


Posted: 05/09/2018 14:39:41 by Aileen McGloin
Filed under: Activity, Children, Phones, Screens, Sleep, START

About Me

Avatar Image
Aileen McGloin
Hi, my name is Aileen McGloin and I am the Director of Marketing and Communications, at safefood. I trained as a public health nutritionist originally and am passionate about changing food-related behaviour. I have a particular interest in using digital technology to promote health. At home, I love books, am in a book club and married to a crime writer. I’m a fiend for all things fashion and like walking, swimming and TV that is so bad it’s good. I live in Co. Wicklow with my husband and 10 year old daughter.