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Can an app help curb your social media addiction?

03 Feb 2017

A new app has launched to help those who may rely on their smartphones too much, including those who may spend a little too much time on social media.

AntiSocial, launched by Melbourne-based software development firm Bugbean, monitors smartphone usage including social media apps such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. It also looks at emails and gaming so users can benchmark their behavior against peers.

Users will be able to see which apps they spend the most amount of time on, at what times of day and cross reference their usage stats with others in their age range, state and even occupation.

“Although other social monitoring apps exist, AntiSocial is the first to use technology to pinpoint individual apps and produce accurate reports as well as enabling users to check if they are higher or lower than someone of a similar demographic,” explains Chris Eade, managing director at Bugbean,

“The aim of [the] app is to help us understand what normal is when it comes to how much time we truly spend on our phones,” Fade says.

“There is so much noise in the media about this issue but most of the data is anecdotal without any real data. Our data will solve this problem,” he says.

“We are encouraging Android users to download the app for at least two weeks so they get an accurate reading of their habits,” Fade continues.

“Initial trials have shown that once it’s downloaded, people tend to change their behaviour for the first few days but once the app is forgotten about the true data comes to life,” he explains.

“AntiSocial does not track time of inactive apps so if you come out of Facebook Messenger for instance, that time will stop being tracked. None of the data captured will be used unethically and our Privacy Policy ensures that we can’t read into sensitive information pertaining to individuals.”

According to Wollongong University’s Professor Katina Michael, who specialises in online addiction, the AntiSocial app is exciting.

“I have been working within the social implications of technology space for 20 years and this is the first of its kind,” she says.

“It exists to help people be mindful of their phone usage and hopefully it will encourage people to reflect on their personal goals and patterns of interaction with others in their physical surrounds,” Michael says.

“If Fitbit’s are the answer to improving our physical health, AntiSocial is the app for our mental health,” she pips.

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