Five things you can do to break the doomscrolling habit and spend less time on your phone


Buying an alarm clock and turning your phone’s display to grayscale are two first steps.


Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sometimes the only way to break an addiction is to go cold turkey. That’s what A-GAP does with its no-technology weekend retreats.

Bethany Baker, executive director of A-GAP, said organizers collect cell phones when participants arrive Friday night and return the devices on Sunday when everyone leaves.

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“We find that it takes 24 hours without your phone to let your anxiety levels drop,” she said.

A-GAP surveys participants after the retreats to understand the impact, and Baker said people often list an increased awareness of the addictive tendencies of mobile phones.

“We help people think about what speed bumps can they put in place so that they don’t automatically go to their phone,” she said. “In the long run, we’re doing ourselves a disservice by always being plugged in.”

After COVID-19 shut down in-person events, A-GAP switched to online events and partnered with digital wellness experts to host conversations about how to manage screen time while spending a lot more time at home. Baker and Liana Pavone, founder of TTYL and a new A-GAP partner, recommend taking these steps to reduce screen time and give your brain a break:

  1. Get an alarm clock: If your phone wakes you up every day, it is the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you look at before you go to bed. Keeping it out of the bedroom helps set up physical boundaries that will help you follow through on your healthy tech goals.
  2. Go for a phone-free walk: Get your daily dose of Vitamin D, and give your mind a rest from email, music, and podcasts.
  3. Go grayscale: App designers mimic the flashy design of slot machines to keep users hooked. Changing your display to grayscale makes your phone less appealing and is an easy barrier to put in place.
  4. Limit your social media apps: Pick your favorite one and delete the rest to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and FOMO. This also stops you from checking multiple accounts, often for similar content.
  5. Create accountability for your new habits: Find a friend who also wants to reduce screen time and share your goals with that person. Ask him or her to check in regularly to see how your new habits are going.

Baker said two habits have made the biggest difference for her and her husband.

“A big thing that we do is using physical alarm clocks. And on the weekends, Sunday is my screen-free day,” she said.

She has been the executive director of A-GAP for three years, and she needs to revisit the disconnect guidelines often to keep her good habits in place.

A-GAP has two retreats planned for the fall, one in September in Asheville, N.C., and in October in Florida. Some A-GAP events are designed for people who follow Christian teachings.

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iPhone 12: The 3 new things business pros need


At WWDC 2020, Apple might give business users and developers the features they want most in the next iPhone. Erik Eckel shares his iPhone 12 wish list.

The features business pros need in Apple’s iPhone 12, especially as increasing numbers of users are more dependent upon mobile devices while weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, are: More styles, faster performance, and better pricing. Here are details about each iPhone 12 wish list item that I hope is announced at WWDC 2020.

SEE: Apple iOS 13: Tips and tricks (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

More styles than the iPhone 11

Let’s start with more models. Instead of three sizes—the iPhone 11 offers the 5.8″ iPhone 11 Pro, the 6.1″ iPhone 11, and the 6.5″ iPhone 11 Pro Max—the iPhone 12 is expected to come in four versions. Tech industry observers expect the new lineup to include a 5.4″ iPhone 12, a 6.1″ iPhone 12 Max, a 6.1″ iPhone 12 Pro, and a bigger 6.7″ iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The new lineup would provide a little something for everyone, from employees requiring basic features and functionality to surprisingly capable handhelds for more demanding staff, such as engineers and sales and marketing professionals. From small to large, the iPhone 12 models look to be both smaller (the 5.4″ versions are approximately 7% smaller than the previous corresponding form factor) and larger (the new 6.7″ iPhone 13 Pro Max will be about 3% bigger than the previous equivalent).

SEE: Where and how to watch Apple WWDC 2020 on June 22 (TechRepublic)

Faster performance than previous iPhones

The pursuit of improved performance is never-ending. Business users are ready for 5G compatibility. With 5G support, the iPhone 12s is expected to send and receive information more quickly, including in heavily populated areas where in the past cellular overuse and oversubscription sometimes resulted in poor experiences sending and receiving texts and emails, loading attachments, downloading files, using cloud applications, and visiting websites.

Local performance–that is, the speed with which locally installed applications process commands and perform operations–will likely be faster, too. The new A14 Bionic processors expected in the new iPhone 12s are a step up from the iPhone 11’s third-generation A13 chips, which were no slouches. As a result, business users will find the new iPhones even more responsive. Combine the local speed improvements with 5G connectivity’s benefits, and the new handsets should prove noticeably faster in performing most everyday common tasks: Powering the phone on, using cloud-based applications, editing photos and video, and streaming online media.

SEE: Apple’s Developer app makes the leap to macOS in time for WWDC 2020 (TechRepublic)

Better pricing for an iPhone

The innovations don’t appear to be coming with a corresponding increase in price, though. Typically prices edge up with each new model, but that doesn’t appear to be the case here. If pricing ends up matching expectations, costs for mid- and higher-range models look to be unchanged. At the lower end, iPhone 12s will be available for $50 less ($649) than the iPhone 11 counterpart ($699). The lower-priced option, if true, will come at the perfect time, as businesses and individual users are battling health, civil unrest, and economic crises.

Will you buy a new iPhone?

While the next iPhone won’t be world changing (whereas the first generation arguably was), these are extraordinarily stressful times, and some people might find that having a shiny new doodad in more sizes with faster performance and no price increase is a good thing.

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Apple’s Tim Cook

Image: John Gress Media Inc, Shutterstock / John Gress Media Inc