The Phone Hack Guaranteed To Cut Down Your Screen Time

Are you the kind of person who loves seeing the world in vivid hues? And have you recently had a friend/coworker/family member/significant other call you out for either getting regularly distracted by your phone or getting up in the middle of the night to use your phone? If you've said yes to both, have we got a hack for you, and its called grayscale mode. 

Don't beat yourself up if you didn't know your phone had that functionality; not many people do. But turning it on makes the screen look like some color vampire had gotten ahold of your phone and sucked the joy out of it, leaving its screen toned down to shades of gray (via Wired).

The theory is that having our phone display on grayscale can help us kick our smartphone addiction because we're addicted to bright colors. "Research shows that we as humans are very visually based. We like to engage with visual things, including smartphone screens," Daria Kuss, a UK-based academic, who specializes in smartphone use and internet addiction, tells CNN. "Once you are really engaging with a black and white screen, the likelihood of you spending a lot of time with that screen is certainly reduced."

Switching to grayscale cuts screen time

A study on smartphone use conducted among college undergraduates showed that switching a smartphone display from color to grayscale for eight to ten days resulted in less time spent on social media and internet browsing. Total screen time was reduced by a little under 38 minutes a day. Researchers concluded changing a phone's screen setting to grayscale made the gadgets less appealing and could be used to help control smartphone use. 

Alex J. Holte, the doctoral student behind the survey, tells CNN that grayscale subverts a tech developer's goal. "The individuals who create these applications want us to use them often," Holte says. "Each application icon is very bright and they are very attractive colors for our brains' attentional center."

The study comes at a time when parents and teens report seeing the downside of smartphone use. In a survey by Common Sense Media, 36 percent of parent respondents say they wake up to check their devices at least once during the night; the percentage of teens who do this is 26. More teens (68 percent) say they wish their parents would get off their devices; and parents have admitted that they feel addicted to their devices. As much as 54 percent of parent respondents and 58 percent of teen respondents say they feel distracted by their mobile phones at least once a day.

If those survey results sound like you, switching to grayscale may be worth it.