New apps help the tech addicted with digital detox

With Millennials checking their phones an estimated 150 times a day—at least six times an hour discounting sleep—it isn't surprising that they sometimes feel the need to detox from all of this connection. Nearly one-quarter of youth in the U.S. and UK have deleted a social media app from their phone because it was causing them stress, but these apps are making it easier to disconnect, somewhat counterintuitively, with the help of technology.


This free iPhone app serves as a simple introductory step for those seeking to detox. Described as a Fitbit for phones, Mute is a screen time tracker that sends push notifications when phone usage becomes too much. The service tracks and monitors when users actually check their phones, sending motivational messages with emojis when they refrain from doing so. Updates come in daily and weekly progress reports so that users can track their progress or lack thereof.


After Arianna Huffington fell and broke her cheekbone due to exhaustion, she realized she needed to make a lifestyle change. Partnering with Samsung, the free Thrive Mode blocks all apps, notifications, calls, and texts except from the people on the user's VIP list. It also features Auto Reply, which lets others know the user is taking time away from their phone, and App Blocking, which lets them set boundaries with the apps they choose. Once the users reach their limit for a particular app, they won’t be able to access it until 12 a.m. the next day.


In a playful take on digital detoxing, users of Forest are able to help virtual trees grow the more they refrain from touching their phones. People can grow as many trees as they want depending on their willpower, with one tree for 30 minutes, two trees for one hour, and four for four hours of abstinence. The trees die, however, if users access their phone too often, causing the forest to be cursed and haunted. At the end of the day, users can check on their forest to see how lush (or cursed) it is.