A couple of weeks ago I installed an app called Checky on both my Android tablet and my Android phone. The reason for installing the app was to try to get a handle on how often I checked my devices during the day. I had a sense that I was possibly checking my devices too often and that as a result I was less focused than I could be, however I was also conscious of the fact that this might be simply an incorrect perception without grounding in reality. The only way to determine whether my sense of over checking my devices was true was to gather some quantitative data and this is where Checky comes in. The app is simple – It just logs the number of times you access your device, reporting this daily.
The results; Well over the last couple of weeks the combined totals from the apps across both the mobile devices I use, a phone and a tablet, suggest I access my mobile devices on average 34 times a day. This represents checking my devices almost every 28 minutes if we assume 8 hours of sleep per day and therefore only 16 possible hours each day when I could access my device.
Taken in the context of the piece in the Independent (Barr, S. 2017) in relation to the average Brit who accesses their devices 28 times per day, my personal access over the last couple of weeks of 34 times seems a little high. It is certainly nothing compared to some teens who apparently check social media 100 times per day (Wallace, K, CNN, 2015). That said, I cannot see why I should need to be accessing my devices every 28 minutes.
On reflection I must acknowledge that I have slightly different apps sets across both devices. This may lead me to check both devices at the same time which could be doubling up my statistics. This is something I may need to look at, either having the same apps on both devices, or having clears sets of apps on each devices, thereby avoiding the need to check each device separately throughout the day. This may reduce the time taken when I have the urge to check my various apps, as I would only need to check a single device. I also note that recently I have taken to exercising in the morning which involves using my phone for music as I run, making changes to my music as I go and also reviewing my distance traveled, etc, which all require me to access my phone. Another factor is I use a tablet device in meetings and in my general work day which again would show up in my access statistics.
I have also put the data into Excel and looked at my usage by day. It turns out my greatest usage is on a Sunday, then on a Friday and Saturday respectively. For me this is a little concerning as shouldn’t I be focusing on enjoying the weekend as opposed to checking my devices on a Saturday or Sunday. I quite often engage in twitter chats on both Saturday and Sunday which may account for some of the statistics. The question is: Is this the best use of my weekend?
I think the key thing I draw from the activity of gathering some data on my access habits is one simply of conscious awareness. All too often people are using their devices but not conscious of the frequency or time spent. They are not conscious of the impact it may be having within their lives. They do not see how much of their day is spent on social media consumption. We easily succumb to social media and our mobile devices stealing away valuable time which could be better spent on other activities. I at least had a feeling that something was wrong and have now gathered data which I can now use to decide on actions and then measure the success of any actions I may take.
Maybe this is something we should all be doing with students in our classrooms? Ask them to install Checky for a period of time and record their device usage, followed by reviewing it after a couple of weeks as a class activity. I am sure this would make for some very interesting discussions.