Phone addiction is widespread these days -- statistics show that Americans in 2021 spent on average almost 4hours on their phones per day. That’s basically 26% of your waking hours each day presumably going into time sinks such as YouTube, Instagram, and mobile games.
Even knowing this though, it’s hard to break out of the habit of phone addiction. So many mobile apps are developed with user addiction as a goal -- every carefully placed button, notification message, in-game reward, and sound was selected to optimize for user engagement. How do we combat this?
Here’s one idea: turn your phone screen black and white. By turning color off on your phone screen, your phone starts to look way less interesting than the real world. Black and white videos are less interesting, black and white instagram photos look way worse, and games played in black and white are way less fun. Over time, your brain will begin to stop associating your phone with fun and start looking for other activities in the real world to fill the time.
During the pandemic, my personal screen time metrics were slowly increasing every week. I’m embarrassed to say that at one point it even reached upwards of 6hrs per day on average. Without the structure of an office environment, it becomes way too easy to watch a YouTube video (or 2, or 3) between meetings or fire off Google search after Google search to instantly satisfy your curiosity for any random thought that pops in your head (I wonder what’s the price of Dogecoin right now? 🤔)
I had to get out of this cycle so I decided to give this black and white screen trick a try.
Two Week Experiment
After 2 weeks of trying out this method (and getting plenty of strange looks from family and friends), here were my results:
How to Try This
If you’d like to try this trick out for yourself to help you reduce your screentime, here are the instructions for both iOS and Android phones.
- Open Settings
- Click on Accessibility
- Click on Display & Text Size
- Click on Color Filters
- Toggle “On”
- Select “Grayscale”
- Turn on developer mode on your phone
- Open Settings
- Click on System
- Click on Developer options
- At the bottom of the page, select “Simulate color space”
- Select Monochromacy