Anyone with a smartphone has experienced it. That moment of profound existential dread when there’s nothing to do or no one to talk to. The solution? Most of the time we rush to fill any unoccupied moment by glancing at our phone to check email, Facebook, or news.
Americans on average spend just under five hours a day on their smartphones. Over 70 million photos are posted on Instagram every day around the world. Doctors have even started taking notice of patients reporting symptoms of anxiety when they’re without their phone.
Molly McLeod, a graphic designer who works at Code for America, wanted to change how much she uses her phone in those spare moments with a simple, gentle, and–crucially–unavoidable reminder any time she glances at her phone. So she created a background for her phone’s lock screen that tells her to go do something else.
“My smartphone is a strong magnet for my attention,” says McLeod. “It’s an amazing tool, and I love being able to easily look up information, share pictures, and stay connected. But I’ve formed a lot of habits I’m not happy with, and I find myself checking it or seeking some entertainment whenever I have a few idle seconds.”
McLeod, who works on making government services easier to use, wanted to create a straightfroward way for people to alter their habits.
“I know that to change behaviors, contextual reminders are key,” she says. “In the few days I’ve been using the ‘stop looking’ wallpaper, it’s already made a big difference.”
Next time your friends are playing the phone stacking game at dinner, you can also mention these wallpapers. The designs are currently optimized for iPhone 5, but McLeod is planning to make them for other sizes. Download the wallpapers at her website.