Health

An app to cure your mobile addiction

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‘Digital Detox by SHUT Clinic’ tracks your phone usage and offers self-help advice

If you are one of those tech addicts who can’t help but spend most your waking life glued to your cell phone, relief may finally be at hand – on your cell phone. Doctors at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) have come up with a mobile app that helps people reduce their mobile usage.

The Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinic has developed a Digital Detox app that has been found to be effective in bringing about behavioural changes among users. The app, available on Google Playstore as ‘Digital Detox by Shut Clinic’, requires you to register. Once you sign up, it tracks your pattern of mobile usage every week and offers self-help strategies.

The app asks users to specify their addiction-related symptoms, such as sleep disturbance, eye strain, loneliness, boredom, or excess Facebook usage. It asks users if their mobile usage affects their academics, work or interpersonal relationships, and has a feature where you also have the option of sharing your progress with friends.

A pilot test of the app was done between September 2017 and September 2018 among 240 college students aged 18-25. The study found that 75.6% of the app’s users changed their mobile use pattern and showed significant reduction in the time spent on technology.

Manoj Kumar Sharma, professor of clinical psychology, NIMHANS and head of SHUT clinic, said that users were classified into three categories based on their technology usage: mild, moderate and severe. “We have enough data to indicate that those who were using tech tools in moderation have introduced lifestyle changes and now fall under the ‘mild users of technology’ category,” he said. But he added that the data was insufficient to prove if the app was helpful to those who were severely addicted to technology.

Dr Sharma said that the app’s biggest benefit was that it helped people who would otherwise not be willing to seek help. “It is in fact an irony that we are using technology to beat technology. But we realised that this is the only way out,” he said.

The app developers have followed the principle that technology de-addition should be supportive, encouraging and fun. They now plan to further refine the app by incorporating gaming addition in addition to internet and mobile phone addiction.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:15:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/an-app-to-cure-your-mobile-addiction/article25874949.ece

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