Mobile news

Smartphone Grayscale option could reduce screen time

Hannah Cotel-Altman is like many college seniors and most people with a cell phone. She spends a lot of time on it.

“I probably spend about six hours on my phone every day,” said Cotel-Altman. “Every week, I get that iPhone notification with my screen time, so that’s how I kind of gauge that.”

Mostly texting and scrolling on social media, Cotel-Altman isn’t alone. According to recent data from Rescue Time, the average person spends more than three hours on their phone each day.

On average, people check their phones 58 times per day. And almost 52% of phone checks occur during work hours.

What You Need To Know

  • People check their phones an average of 58 times per day, per Rescue Time
  • Almost 52% of phone checks occur during work hours
  • Grayscale has been found to reduce screen time

“Phones are our tablets, our computers, our emails. They have everything,” said Cotel-Altman. “I think as technology just continues to develop, that’s only going to worsen if we don’t kind of step back and figure out how to find that balance.”

For those who believe looking at their phone might be impacting their health, new research shows turning on Grayscale might be beneficial. Alex J. Holte is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, and has researched the effects of Grayscale.

“Smartphone use itself isn’t bad, but if you feel like it’s causing some type of life dysfunction, you can just switch your phone to grayscale,” said Holte. “Based on the research we conducted, it should be able to give you more control over your smartphone use.”

The grayscale setting can easily be turned on and off and by removing color. It’s been found to reduce screen time and some of the negative effects associated with spending too much time on your device.

“Smartphones are designed to obtain and retain our attention,” said Holte. “If you look at all of the different smartphone applications, they’re all very bright, saturated colors that are enjoyable to look at. There’s not a lot of colors that are very dull.”

And those colors, especially the red notification badge, can lead to anxiety. On an iPhone, to turn to grayscale:

  • Open the Settings app, then tap accessibility 
  • Under the “vision” header, tap display & textsSize 
  • Find the color filters option, tap the toggle to turn it on, and select Grayscale

“I’d consider it. I wouldn’t say it would be my preference, but I would consider it if I saw that there were benefits of some sort,” said Cotel Altman. “But I definitely like the colors. I think all the colors and the photos you see on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, whatever it is, are part of the reason that we get so interested in it. The videos on Tik-Tok. So I think that grayscale would prevent me from being on my phone.”

Cotel Altman says she’s found a healthy balance of her own, utilizing the “do not disturb” setting when she’s in class and taking opportunities when she can to put it away all together.

“It gets to be a complete obsession because our phones are always there,” said Cotel-Altman. “They have everything we do. They have everything we want to that our emails, our text messages. So anytime you want to pick up your phone, there’s always something to do, which is what I think ties into the obsession.”


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