The App Avalanche

How To Find Your ‘Appy’ Place

I have a very close friend who is your stereotypical, professional, Type A personality. One day during lunch, she gave me her cell phone to browse through her recent vacation pictures. After closing out of her picture app, I was amazed at the number of apps she had on her phone. I barely have 20 on my phone. I began to feel inadequate. Was I missing something?

But it did get me thinking: Apps offer a unique, unguarded and very genuine view into who we are as people. It’s a very fascinating phenomenon, but are all these apps helping or hurting us?

Apps are used, on average, for two hours and 15 minutes every day by smartphone owners.

All Hail the App

Apps first sprung up in 2008, and we’ve been collecting them ever since. And because there’s an app for conceivably everything, we download and use apps with ease and disregard.

Weird Apps

There’s actually a Nothing app. Yep. And—you guessed it—it does NOTHING. (Read the reviews for some good humor.) There’s an app for digital pimple popping, milking a digital cow, a watermelon ripeness calculator … The possibilities seem disturbingly endless. We’re obviously app-obsessed, but don’t take my word for it. Research reveals that more than 90 percent of the time the Internet is used on smartphones, it’s used for apps. For tablets, it’s 77 percent of the time. Apps are not only dominating most Americans’ devices, but they’re dominating our time. A 2017 study shows that apps are used, on average, for two hours and 15 minutes every day by smartphone owners. That’s nearly one-eighth of the time we’re awake each day! What’s even more shocking is that at least one month per year is spent purely on apps!

The average person uses 9 apps per day, accesses 30 apps per month, and has between 60 and 90 apps on their phone. The average person also unlocks their phone more than 70 times a day! That’s about four to five times per hour, assuming you’re getting sleep. Researchers found that back in 2016, the average person unlocked their phone around 56 times per day, but in 2018, that number increased to 73.

Take Back Control

There’s not only an app avalanche; there’s an app addiction!

But who can blame us? App developers work hard to study our minds and create applications that will be enjoyable, rewarding and, ultimately, addicting. (The New York Times even recently published an article about how Apple is fighting app addiction.)

Since apps are crucial components of most Americans’ lives, it’s even more important that we exercise a bit of caution when it comes to which apps we let on our phones. With literally millions of apps available at the touch of a button, something as simple as browsing the apps can seem overwhelming. But don’t stress, there’s an app for that.

We need to exercise caution when it comes to which apps we let on our phones.

Wondering how to navigate through the clutter and find the diamonds in the rough? Here’s a strategy that may help:

  • Concentrate on the types of apps that can be helpful, as opposed to apps that are just time wasters. Weather, banking, organizational, home security, file-sharing, travel and health management apps may all be good choices for things that you do every day. (Speaking of health, you should also download the Health Plan of Nevada app if you’re a member.)
  • Look at your profession and/or your hobbies for a second tier of app selections. If you’re a writer, a dictionary app, the AP Style Guide, a thesaurus and a video meeting app may all help you get your work done. A musician might have a chord finder, a pocket studio, sheet music or a beatmaker app.
  • Finally, you may want to limit games and the aforementioned milking a digital cow app. If you do download them (and they are free), delete them once the novelty wears off to make room for the next new thing. Too many apps on your phone may feel like a messy room or cramped kitchen counter.

After you have selected an app you want to download, use it as soon as possible to make sure you like it. If you don’t like it or you haven’t used it within a week, delete it. If you’re curious about what info the app will have access to, you can check an app’s permissions after it is downloaded.

For any of the apps you are considering downloading, read online articles, expert reviews and customer reviews of existing apps. If you’re curious about what info the app will have access to, you can check an app’s permissions after it is downloaded.

It’s not a secret that too much screen time, including time on social media, may be harmful to our mental health—but ultimately we have control. Starting today, we should consider being as picky about the apps we use as we are with who we let in our social feeds.

If you’re a Health Plan of Nevada member, download our new MyHPN app. It’s simple to use and gives you mobile access to your health plan information, including quick links to our 24/7 advice nurse and virtual visits.

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