8 April 2020

Just over ten years ago the first iPhone was released to the world. It’s amazing to think that in such a short space of time how much this Smartphone has changed how we live and relate to one another.

One major change comes  with the invention of mobile phone apps. Ten years ago, there were 500 apps available on the Apple App Store whereas, nowadays, there are around 2.6 million Android apps and 2.2 million IOS apps available. In 2018, there was around 194 million app downloads of which social media apps were the most popular.[1]

With such interest today in mobile phone apps, how are they affecting our sense of digital wellbeing?

HAPPY OR SAD?

The Center for Humane Technology, conducted studies alongside Moment, an IOS app, to find out what apps had a positive or negative effect on our wellbeing. They collected data from 200,000 iPhone users to discover that with the apps we regularly use, on average, we are unhappy over twice the amount of time than happy. Interestingly, the apps that draw in more of our time have a greater influence on how unhappy we are. Topping the unhappy list – we may or may not be surprised – are apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! There are a host of apps that aid our wellbeing. Apps that encourage us to relax and meditate, to exercise, enjoy music, books, and organise our lives; these apps leave us feeling considerably happier. And just as the apps that make us most unhappy significantly drain our time, these positive apps do the opposite. Our daily usage of these apps is minimal, rarely topping over 10 minutes of use.[2]

HOW TO SPEND OUR TIME

When we think that on average we spend just over 3 hours a day using the internet on our phones,[3] we need to question what effect that time is having on us. Do we come away from our mobile phone use feeling energised, relaxed and encouraged, or irritable, discouraged, and sad? I wonder what apps we regularly use and whether this contributing to how we feel after our mobile phone use.

Check out the study (https://humanetech.com/resources/app-ratings/) to see which apps score highly on the happy/unhappy scale. By doing so, we can consider which apps might be worth using more or less to enhance our digital wellbeing.

 

[1] https://www.businessofapps.com/data/app-statistics/

[2] https://humanetech.com/resources/app-ratings/

[3] https://wearesocial.com/global-digital-report-2019 p.43