My iPhone use

Over the last four months I have been consistently using the Moment app every day to track my phone use and what apps I have been using. The idea is to use this information as leverage to cut down on how much we use our phones, but I have simply been recording the data and not paying much attention to it until now.

The app has to be constantly running in the background in order to record every time the screen is unlocked, recording each unlock as a pickup and every second the screen is active. This is the most automatic aspect of the app. Because of Apple’s sandboxing in iOS the app cannot eavesdrop on how long you use apps directly. Instead it asks you to take a battery use screenshot every week (or daily if you want more accuracy), which is then sent to Moment’s server an parsed to determine how long each app was active. The app designer (Kevin Holesh) acknowledges that this is an imperfect solution, but it is the best currently available on iPhones.

A hiccup I encountered is that sometimes the app records all the time I have been asleep as me using the phone. The FAQ explains that this is caused by using Sleep Cycle which can keep the phone unlocked while asleep. Usually I turn the screen off once I activate Sleep Cycle but obviously forget sometimes. This causes inaccuracies in the total screen time so I exported the data and the anomalies were easy to spot and correct (how often do you use your phone for 550 minutes in one sitting?).

My Screen Time

Average screen time: 1 hr 38 min per day (max 202 minutes; min 7 minutes)

Average pickups: 20 per day (max 49; min 5)

App Use

These are average values for my most frequently used apps.

Safari 19 min per day
Toy blast 13 min per day 10 min per day
Facebook 10 min per day
Mail 6 min per day
Home & lock screen 3 min per day
App store 2 min per day
WordPress 2 min per day
Settings 1 min per day
Waterlogged 1 min per day
Last Pass 1 min per day
Sleep cycle 1 min per day
iMood Journal 1 min per day
Weather 1 min per day


Overall I would like to reduce my phone use to less than an hour per day, which is probably an attainable goal if I refrain from using my phone as a ‘boredom buster’. I have deleted the offending game (Toy Blast) and also the Facebook app. I’m mildly surprised that Facebook got as much screen time as it did because most days I only use it for 2 or 3 minutes. However there were some days when I sat watching stupid videos with the kids and that clocked up over an hour a day then. It remains to be seen whether continues to enjoy as much of my attention as it has recently, the novelty may wear off.

Another interesting consideration is whether I’m even justified in having an iPhone. There are apps that I always use every day but these are generally for logging details of my life which I’ve decided to keep track of for various reasons. This sort of thing could just as easily go in the notebook which is always in my back pocket. I could buy a lot of notebooks for the $20 a month I currently pay for my phone plan. My counter argument for this is that I often use my phone to check my blog and email due to computers being a scarce resource in our home. I would prefer to use a laptop to read blog articles or reply to comments or email but often the kids are using our only functional laptop.


Devotional Reading in the Digital Age

I was sent a link to this article: Devotional Reading in the Digital Age today by my friend Chris.

I could anticipate the likely conclusion of the author before I began reading, but was pleased to see a subtitle ‘Let’s not be luddites‘ towards the end of the piece. Overall, the argument is that a smartphone is designed for communication and makes this so easy to do that remaining undistracted while using one to read a digital bible is quite difficult when compared to reading a paper version.

Personally, I do find this to be the case for myself. Sometimes I purposely leave my phone in a different room to avoid the temptation to fart around on social media instead of reading the bible. However, I disagree that meditating on the word of God is better with a paper bible. What I actually find is that I meditate on God’s word when I have no bible in my hand – this is when I think about what I have read or remembered and try to understand it. I may refer back to a bible, but that is often on my phone while I am walking, so a case can be made that having the bible on a digital device that’s always with you enhances meditation.

Anyway, it is a good article and a topic worth being mindful of. There are also some interesting looking links at the bottom of the article that I will get around to reading some time.


Why am I more likely to be thinking about a computer game while waiting for the bus than to be mulling over this week’s memory verse or praying for persecuted Christians in Somalia?

I am interested in how to constrain my mental and emotional focus so that I ponder Christ and am captivated by Him rather than the useless shiny glittering junk of my everyday world. I suspect that this is an issue for many Christians, I know that it is a multi-million dollar industry in the business world as the popularity of books such as Getting Things Done by David Allen attests. The tendency to get distracted is common to all and seems to be becoming worse as technology delivers ever more of the world to our gadgets. It has been shown that multitasking is a myth, all we really do is switch quickly between tasks and this actually reduces concentration rather than making us more creative, efficient or clever.

Clearly a wise solution to distractions is to reduce the number and frequency of them. I also find that some distractions are more distracting than others — people talking loudly is more distracting than music playing, phones ringing are worse than traffic noises, emotional turmoil is harder to ignore than a cluttered desk. It is this last contrast which gets me closer to my concern about maintaining my focus on Christ, how to get my emotions more engaged with the glory of God?

The things that take my attention are those with the strongest emotional pull. They don’t have to be good emotions — anxiety, stress and pain are not pleasant but they certainly hold my attention! However, emotions are slippery things, very difficult to control or manipulate at will. So is there any hope of taming my distracted heart?

I think there is. It involves that awful ‘D’ word… discipline! I have to discipline myself to place my attention upon what is edifying for my soul, I have to monitor the ‘inputs‘ into my life and turn off those that are pulling me away from Christ and maybe even find some more that will turn my thoughts towards Him. Most of all though, I need to think deeply about Christ. This needn’t be a dry academic exercise — if so there is not much hope for me! The intention is to move beyond superficial thoughts of ‘Jesus meek and mild’ and ponder the meaning of who He is, who I am in relation to Him, and how I can relate to Him. As I grow in my understanding of Jesus Christ my emotions are moved in solid and positive ways. I join the quest that motivated the Apostle Paul:

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11 ESV)