Cutting your screen time isn't curbing your phone addiction, survey says

A third of respondents say their usage either went up or didn't change after they began using their devices again.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
3 min read
Tech addiction

Reducing the amount of time you spend on digital devices isn't a long-term solution to tech addition, according to a Mojo Vision survey. 

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Your "digital detox" might not be as helpful as you think, according to an online survey by augmented reality company Mojo Vision.

The company asked more than 1,000 people in September about their attitudes on tech distraction and how they try to curb device dependence. Most respondents said they periodically moderate their screen time or cut devices from their lives. But 54 percent said cutting back on technology, particularly smartphones and other personal devices, didn't lead to them spending less time on their devices, or they were unsure if it had that effect. In addition, one in three respondents said their usage either went up when they began using their device again or it didn't have any effect. Results of the survey, which had a margin of error of 3 percent or less, were released Wednesday. 

Read more: Screen time is ruining us. Here are 11 ways to cut back | Your 'screenome' might be much more important than screen time.

Tech companies are reckoning with backlash from investors and users alike, who are concerned about the negative impact extensive screen time can have on people, especially youth. In June,  Apple  unveiled features in  iOS 12  allowing users to monitor how much time they spend on their devices and in certain applications.  Google  followed suit in November, rolling out a Digital Wellbeing tool to help limit screen time. Facebook and Instagram also debuted tools last year to show users how much time they're spending on the platforms. 

Thirty-one percent of people are concerned tech has negatively affected our ability to connect with each other, according to Mojo Vision's survey. The top three concerns people cited regarding extensive use of devices include that it hurts the quality of interactions (65 percent), it keeps us from being present (63 percent) and it keeps people from interacting with one another (62 percent). 

Sixty-five percent of respondents said consumer technology has become intrusive, and they're concerned it'll play a more dominant role in our lives, according to the survey. In addition, three-fourths of people say social media is to blame for excessive time spent on phones or devices. 

"Device detox and screen time limits are the standard responses to technology distraction right now, but people are still struggling to find a workable balance," said Steve Sinclair, senior vice president of product and marketing at Mojo Vision.

Cutting devices out of our lives isn't a long-term solution, according to the survey. Respondents tried tactics to limit their screen time including reducing the number of notifications they get (46 percent), putting their phones on a "do not disturb" setting (44 percent), designating "no phone or device" times (38 percent) and turning their devices off for a certain amount of time (37 percent). Still, 32 percent of people say taking away tech doesn't solve the problem because the issue is with people rather than the devices themselves. In addition, people are so reliant on tech and the positive changes it's brought that it's not realistic to keep away from their devices, the survey says. 

More than a third of people said there isn't a solution to tech distraction because we'll become more reliant on our devices, according to the survey. But half of respondents said they predict tech devices will evolve to better fit our lives, rather than people changing their habits to cut tech's distractions. 

Ultimately, nearly 40 percent of respondents say the only long-term answer to curbing device distraction is to rely on gadgets less. Still, a quarter of people say it's up to tech companies to make devices less distracting. 

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