Can an app that rewards you for avoiding Facebook help beat smartphone addiction?
07/03/2018

A screengrab of Hold app


 A screengrab of the Hold app

Some people have tried locking their mobiles away in order to combat their smartphone obsessions, while others have used novel tricks such as making their screens black and white.

But the cure to smartphone addiction may lie in an app that rewards users for leaving their phone alone.

The new iOS and Android app, called Hold, can detect when a person has used their smartphone and gives students points dependent on how long they avoid the temptation of opening Facebook or sending a WhatsApp message, for example. 

Upon downloading it, a student simply needs to leave their phone untouched for as long as possible to accrue points that can be exchanged for half-price Vue cinema tickets or shop discounts.

Students receive 10 points for every 20 minutes spent without touching their phone, with a student email address needed to claim the rewards.

To get half price cinema tickets users need 60 points, the equivalent of 120 minutes away from your phone, and the same again for a bucket of free popcorn. For two free coffees from Café Nero, users need 300 points, which is 600 minutes away from your phone, or for something a bit more healthy they can get a Planet Organic juice for 90 points, which is 180 minutes Hold time. For £5 Amazon vouchers, users need to have achieved 1000 points, which would need 33 hours spent away from your phone.

How the Hold app will appear
How the Hold app will appear

Hold was created by Maths Mathisen, Florian Winder and Vinoth Vinaya, three Norwegians who noticed that their peer's dependence on their devices was getting out of hand while  studying at Copenhagen Business School . 

Rather than punish their users, the trio found that the best way to get them to put their phones down was to use tricks that got them hooked in the first place.

“We get instant gratification from Facebook or Snapchat and that makes them really addictive,” said Hold co-founder Vinoth Vinaya, 26.

“So we wanted to put that in our app, to make it a game. We needed to give people positive reinforcement to help them change their behaviour.”

The app launches in the UK as a wealth of academic studies in recent years point to the worrying rise of smartphone addiction and the effects of devices on education.

Researchers at University of Texas last year claimed that smartphones could negatively affect attention span by just being in someone’s line of sight.

Another study, conducted by the London School of Economics, found that students who did not use their phones at school found their grades improved by 6.5 per cent.

There is conflicting scientific evidence over what it is that makes us so dependant on our phones but as the technology is relatively new, it is hard to tell what effect it is hanging on the youngest in society.

“We haven’t even seen how addiction may affect the generation who has grown up with smartphones,” said Mr Mathisen,26.

Caffe Nero, Amazon and Planet Organic will also offer discounts on the Hold marketplace. Students will also be offered the option to use points to buy school books and stationary which are then donated to schools partnered with children’s charity Unicef.

Telegraph.co.uk

Tags:mobile phones,Smartphones,mobile app,smartphone addiction

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