• Deborah Vail

Helpful Mindfulness Phone App: Screen Zen

Many of our apps are designed to lull us (or jerk us) into a mindless consumption mode, which is not the mindful place most of us would choose for ourselves, but this persuasive tech design is stronger than the best intentions of most human beings. Despite the abundant ethical issues of persuasive tech design, I continue to use it, so I am an enthusiastic fan of anything that returns attention sovereignty to the user.

I recently tried re-engaging with social media and quickly saw my use climb to old heights of mindless consumption. My iPhone Screentime and Downtime features are disappointingly useless against social media nowadays. I set them up as I had in the past and my social media apps simply ignore them. A quick search of online forums and I learned this is a common issue and despite software updates and phone resets, I and many others have been unable to fix it or to get Apple to fix it. I suspect there is a purposeful design by persuasive tech to circumvent users attempts to maintain their own attention sovereignty happening here.

I went hunting for a solution in my App Store and came across a lovely little app, called Screen Zen. This app walks you through simple instructions that allow you to create a “mindful pause” when you open certain apps. I selected my social media apps and set up my mindful pauses within less than one minute per app. Now when I click on social media, I am prompted to step out of mindless consumption mode and once again take command of the reigns of my attention. Highly recommend Screen Zen if you ever struggle with mindless media consumption!

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