We need to control apps, not the other way around

Time shouldn’t prove that we created monsters that destroyed us

Published: Wed 12 Jan 2022, 10:36 PM

There has been a debate — prevailing since time immemorial — on how many hours of sleep is considered “healthy”.

There are different theories, but, all things considered, it’s safe to conclude that eight hours — out of a 24-hour format — is perhaps the ideal figure… or, at least, the figure sets a bar.

That leaves us with 16 hours, daily, to make our lives more productive and fulfilling. Now imagine, spending around one-third of that time on apps.

Recently, news broke that, according to an app-monitoring firm, people are spending an average of 4.8 waking hours a day on their mobile phones. It’s safe to assume that chatting, forwarding memes, sharing food and sunset photos, watching videos and absorbing fake news must be some of the high points of the time we spend attached to mobile apps.

Technology in the form of apps has been a boon and a blessing — in innumerable ways: we get news breaks in real time, we can track our fitness levels, we can do travel bookings, medical bookings, we can count on them during times of emergencies and so on.

But it also has its share of idiocies, which have gone beyond the pale of inanity and taken on a dangerous overtone. Mental health experts point out that an excessive dependence on our phone apps is leading to behavioral disorders — especially among young people; older people, who may not be able to “get” the phenomenon of apps, may feel alienated and, subsequently, depressed.

Like everything else, usage has to be in moderation — so, what can we do about it?

For starters, we can limit usage of phone time. Every day, all over the world, there are stories on how ‘real’ human relationships are collapsing, how primary bonds are being disconnected.

There are apps that actually help you limit your screen time — this may be a good time to install one of those! Second, we need to stop downloading apps into our phone system compulsively. Because there will be no end to the clutter we create. Curate a list of apps you ‘really’ need, and stick to it.

Third, while certain apps can be very useful, they also induce laziness. Take, for instance, apps that help with navigation: it’s come to a point where we have lost our sense of direction altogether. Why not make sure that whenever we are driving to a place that we are familiar with, we don’t, on auto prompt, switch on the app just because we can?

It’s nice to hit a button and order groceries online, but, why not, at times, make the effort to walk down to the grocery store and shop in person — and, in the process, also have a bit of human interaction?

Fourth, realise that apps cannot control you. You need to control them. Humans created apps. For our collective benefit. Time shouldn’t prove that we created monsters that destroyed us.

More news from Editorial