Menthal: The App That Tells You How Addicted You Are to Your Smartphone

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Posted 3 years ago


Menthal: The App That Tells You How Addicted You Are to Your SmartphoneHave you ever thought that you may be spending too much time on your smartphone?

Well now there’s an app that can tell you if you have been, and put you on a “digital diet” to help curb your addiction.

Menthal is a new app developed by research scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany and is designed to tell you exactly how attached to your phone you have become and which features are commanding most of your time.

“If you would like to go on a digital diet, we would provide you with the scales,” said Dr. Alexander Markowetz, junior professor for computer science at the University of Bonn.

“Menthal will provide reliable data for the first time,” he added. “This app can show us in detail what someone’s average cellphone consumption per day looks like.”

The team of researchers, led by Dr. Markowetz, studied the smartphone habits of 50 students for a six week period and found that more than a quarter of them used their smartphones for more than two hours in a day, and check their devices an average of 80 times a day, or once every 12 minutes. Time was most commonly spent messaging, gaming, and social networking, with WhatsApp alone taking 15 percent of time and Facebook 9 percent.

With Menthal, the scientists are opening up their study to everyone that owns an Android device running 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or above.

Users of the free app will be able to tell how long they are spending on their devices and which apps are being used the most. The app will then send daily anonymized results back to the research team in Germany (only over Wi-Fi) to help them build what they hope will become the most comprehensive study into smartphone usage to date.

However, Menthal will not just be providing information on how you use your smartphone; it will also conduct personality analysis, using your usage pattern to determine your mood. If a lot of time is spent posting on social media and messaging friends, for example, it might determine that you are an outgoing and happy person, whereas the opposite could indicate possible signs of depression.

“We suspect that during a depressive phase, cell phone use will change in a measurable way,” said researchers. “Patients will then make fewer phone calls and venture outside less frequently – a change in behavior that smartphones can also record thanks to their built-in GPS.”

Doctors might then be able to use a smartphone as a personal diagnostic tool and intervene early, the study said.

Menthal is available to download free from the Google Play Store.

– Anthony Carter


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