8 apps that will help you break your cell phone addiction


Phone addict

because-I-said-so-tealIf you check your smartphone in the bathroom, at the gym, at the playground with your kids, before you go to bed at night — and a hundred other times in between — it may be time for a digital detox. And ironically, there’s an app (or 10) for that.

You may not be technically “addicted” to you phone, but overuse can cause a host of problems. A 2015 study reported the average American spent almost 5 hours a day on their smartphones. Too much time spent staring at the tiny screen in your pocket can interrupt your sleep cycle, weaken your attention span, increase your stress level and more.

Try one of these eight apps if it’s time to take a big step back from the time you spend on your smartphone:

1. Toggl Time Tracker

The Toggl Time Tracker is an online time tracking tool that helps your see where you time goes — not where you think it goes. This cloud-based tool is meant to track business hours, but you don’t need to be working to benefit from being on the clock. Use the app to track how much time you waste on Instagram, how long it takes for you to run carpool and just how many hours to spend doing laundry each week. Caveat: You need to be honest with the app (and yourself) to benefit from the data.

2. Offtime

Offtime lets you track and customize your connectivity so you can limit phone usage at specific times throughout your day. You can create  profiles for work, home and play and restrict access to calls, texts and notifications as you see fit. So you can block Facebook when your kids get home from school or turn off all notifications for a set time each night. You can make exceptions if needed, so you don’t ever miss emergency calls.

3. Digital Detox Challenge

This app makes digital detoxing into a game. There are four difficulty levels —  ‘easy’ is two hours, ‘medium’ is 8 hours, ‘hard’ is a full day and ‘grand master’ is two full days without your phone. You’ll have limited access during challenges, but built-in accountability and the capacity to (ironically) share your progress on social media should keep you honest.

4. BreakFree

If you think you might be full-on addicted to your phone, BreakFree Cell Phone Addiction app will let you know exactly how bad it is. The app gives you an addiction score in realtime, plus usage graphs and statistics. The results may be depressing but having a realistic grasp on how many hours you’re squandering online might just be the wake-up call you need to stop looking down at your phone and start looking up at life.

5. Flipd

This app is a step away from tossing your phone entirely. Flipd locks your phone for a predetermined amount of time — and once you’ve locked the phone, there is no going back. You can still make outbound emergency calls and receive incoming calls but forget about wasting time on Facebook. Flipd keeps track of the time you’ve saved. And you can try Flipd with others and remotely lock your friends and family members out of their phones — proceed with caution.

6. 30/30

The idea behind this app is simple: you work for thirty minutes and focus on a single task with no distractions. When your time is up, you give your mind a break and do something completely unrelated, also for thirty minutes. This 30/30 cycle is repeated until your tasks are done. If you need help staying on task without checking your phone but still want access to the apps and social media tools you love, try 30/30.

7. RescueTime

This app tracks your time online from nearly every angle: how much time you spend on apps, on calls and on the web. Alerts and goals help you manage your digital life, and historical productivity reports rate efficiency, list top distractions and categories.

8. AppDetox

Set your own rules for using apps and this app holds you to it. Every time you break your rules, AppDetox alerts you and reminds you to stop. The app tracks violations in a log so you can see if there is a pattern. It also tracks how much time you spend in various apps, so you’ll know if it’s time to uninstall CandyCrush once and for all.

BONUS: Kill News Feed extension (bonus for desktop and laptop computers)

If your Facebook news feed is a siren call you can’t resist, the Kill News Feed extension may be the only thing to keep you away. Kill News Feed is an extension available for web browsers that blocks (a.k.a. kills)  your Facebook newsfeed and live ticker and replaces it with an inspirational quote. You can still work, update and share and otherwise use Facebook without being bombarded with ads and incessant updates you really don’t care about but draw you in nonetheless.


Natalie Hollingshead is a former magazine editor turned freelance writer and editor. She writes regularly about home, family, food and travel for a handful of publications, and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking” (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Elyssa Andrus. A native of Alberta, Canada, Natalie lives in Orem with her husband and their three children.

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