Author: Paulin Viray
Date Updated: 2022-01-25
Date Added: 2022-01-25
Research: Our team researched the problem of unintentional internet use in the US and looked for the most effective way to minimize that.
Summary: With the use of a distraction blockers, we estimate that on average, 64% of unintentional internet use can be prevented.
Recommendation: Use distraction blocker software like Freedom
We estimate that in the US 90% of people use the internet for an average of 7 hours a day which is 19% of their whole lifetime! Around 30% of this use is unintentional based on previous research findings. Leading fixes for this include setting a reward/payment system, quitting cold turkey, and use of internet blockers. For setting a reward/payment, participants were able to reduce their screen time by 39% during it was in effect but slowly declines once the reward has stopped. In quitting cold turkey, we roughly estimate its efficacy between 15-20% based on personal accounts. We have looked at several survey results (1, 2, 3, 4) and estimated that distraction blockers can reduce 64% (1.6 hours of 2.5 hours) of unintentional internet use on average.
We have computed the overall score using our own conversion table which you can check out here. Assuming a person will start using at 18, and considering the life expectancy of Americans which is 77. We came up with a total of 34,456 hours saved or 3.9 in years.
In the US, there are a total of 298.8 Million internet users as of 2021 which is 90% of the total US population and is expected to rise in 2022.
Users have noted that they are less distracted, more productive, save a least an hour, experienced improved mental health and reduced overall screen time with the help of distraction blockers.
We think that the cost is insignificant compared to the benefits that an individual gain when using a distraction blocker. Freedom only charge as low as $6.99/month.
There are no significant risks involved by using distraction blockers. In extreme cases, one might be obsessed in blocking all apps, and work too much but that is a risk we are more than willing to take.
We looked at user reviews, blogs, articles, and online forums to see how Freedom helped them in controlling their internet use. From what we found, along with the research studies that utilized the use of Freedom, it is effective especially for people who have expressed a desire to quit.
Getting used to a new app or system can take some time so we have considered this as a factor for difficulty rating, but overall, distraction apps like Freedom are intuitive. That means, customizing it to your preferences is fairly easy. In terms of workarounds, people who are so keen and have tremendous self control problems might go through lengths to study the workaround in each blockers.
If you have a problem controlling yourself in using addicting sites/platform online, we recommend trying to install a distraction blocker in your computer or smartphones, particularly Freedom. Using this will help you eliminate distractions and focus on a single task, break bad habit and build new good ones, and be more productive in general. Distractions are habit forming so it is necessary to minimize them.
Organizations can benefit greatly in installing distraction blockers like Freedom in their computers. In addition, a time tracker with similar feature like RescueTime that is more tailored for companies can be used. This can help them ensure that the employees are focused, and doing what they were supposed to do during office hours. Research showed that about 30-40% of employee activity is not related to work and costs US businesses $63 billion in lost productivity each year.
As a collective, the internet has improved our lives tremendously, in ways we never have imagined before. Now, we know it came with a price. Being more connected online meant being disconnected in real life for other people. If most of the population will take pause and notice their internet consumption, we can have an insight about our blindspots. With the aid of a distraction blocker, we can be more empowered to make changes that will benefit us individually and as a society in the long run. In a perfect world, applications and websites would not be built to be addicting so we urge the developers to create something that is beneficial and fun but not with the risk of people’s well being. Here at Better, we aim at developing things like that and hope to share some of our work related with this area soon.
There are other strategies that let users still use the apps that they like. They work by removing only the addictive parts of the apps, like the news feed and recommendations section.
The news feed eradicator is a chrome browser extension that you can use for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, Y-Combinator News (Hacker News), Reddit and Github
Instagram - by using Antigram - Explore blocker, using the web app for a crappier experience, muting stories of people and managing notification options.
Facebook - customizing your facebook news feed and teaching facebook’s algorithm your preferences.
- A short article about the impact of digital distractions on remote employees https://www.1e.com/news-insights/blogs/the-impact-of-digital-distraction-on-remote-employees/
- The effect of constantly checking our smartphones and the myth of multitasking https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/14/the-lost-art-of-concentration-being-distracted-in-a-digital-world
- An article about user behavior around websites and apps https://aeon.co/essays/if-the-internet-is-addictive-why-don-t-we-regulate-it
- A great article tackling the possible bad effects of using of social media and the unknowns surrounding it https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180104-is-social-media-bad-for-you-the-evidence-and-the-unknowns