Need a break from cellular distractions? Dont worry, there’s an app for that

Katy Coduto

While Lepp, Barkley and Karpinski’s research only begins to scratch the surface of what constant cellphone use does to us mentally, it’s a good reminder that sometimes, the cellphone does need to be put down. This tends to be easier said than done, but of course, there are apps available to help even the most-addicted users take a break.

If you’re Team iPhone, your device has a built-in “Do Not Disturb” function you can turn on when you don’t want to be harassed by texts or calls. You set the hours you want to go on hiatus, and you can determine whether any calls get through (so your “Favorites” list can always reach you if want). Plus, any alarms you set will still work.

Android phones can have a similar feature, but you have to get it from GooglePlay and install it. It’s the same idea as Apple’s “Do Not Disturb” option: You figure out when you don’t want to be distracted or kept awake by texts and notifications, and the app does the rest. A nice bonus feature on the Android version is the ability to completely disable WiFi and data in addition to just silencing calls and texts.

If you’re worried about your cellphone interrupting your sleep schedule, which Lepp said can be a concern, both iPhone and Android users can download sleepcycle apps to encourage healthier sleep habits. On the iPhone, 99 cents will get you the Sleep Cycle alarm clock, which follows your actual sleep cycle and wakes you up based on when you’re in your lightest sleep. Android’s SleepBot serves a similar function and includes an Airplane Mode-like feature for keeping texts and calls out.

The “Bit Busy Now” app is both ridiculous and hilarious. The app turns your phone’s screen into a sign, telling those passing by if you’re busy or not, using red and green backgrounds to signal “not available” and “available.” While you might not think you need to broadcast to those working or studying around you, it also forces you to not touch your phone while you continue working.

Perhaps the best of these apps is “BRB”, available for both iPhone and Android users. Whether you’re out to dinner with friends or in class listening to a lecture, you can use BRB to tell your social networks that you’re away from your phone and when you’ll be back. Similar to an AIM away message, you can be as serious or funny as you want — either way, your contacts will know that you aren’t going to be on your phone for a while. It leaves you with the freedom to drop the phone for however long you set the timer for, and no one has to go through socialmedia withdrawal.

Contact Katy Coduto at [email protected]