‘Menthal’: The app that measures addiction to smartphones

Credit: Flickr

The “beep-beep” of a notification, the comic crash from a game, and the muffled vibration indicating a text: these digital sounds are the vital signs of life to many of us these days.

Researchers at the University of Bonn, Germany have created “Menthal” – an app to tell you how much time your smartphone takes up and on what.

Psychologist Christian Montag hopes it will help us deal with a modern plague.

Metro: What appalling behavior are we cultivating through smartphones?

Montag: We’re not sure if we can diagnose an addiction yet, but we want to understand how it influences our culture and wellbeing. This is a live discussion and this will provide data. We are seeking patterns in areas such as tolerance development and withdrawal.

What makes you think we’re so bad?

We did a small study of 50 participants that gave them the opportunity to monitor their own behavior, because a lot of it is unconscious – you just click without being aware. We found that smartphones were activated every 12 minutes, which shows preoccupation, and we found from anecdotes that people felt a major gap when they were without the phone.

Who is most vulnerable?

Often people who are less satisfied or with lower self-esteem became prone to addiction-like behavior.

You say WhatsApp typically accounts for 15 percent of use. Should some apps come with health warnings?

We are not enemies of technology and obviously instant messaging services have big advantages. But some people only use social networks and don’t meet friends in real life and that’s a problem.

How would you treat them?

For extreme forms, you should see an addiction specialist. There are tricks: most people use their smartphone as a watch, so start wearing a watch and you can cut use by half. Try to keep the phone out of your hand as it will distract you.

Is there a problem with creating a smartphone app to help smartphone overuse?

At this point, we are thinking the first step is to produce numbers that function as mirror, and all our feedback is people saying, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t realize I was so bad.’ And that helps them to get it down.


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.