Your apps are making you miserable

Can’t stop.
Can’t stop.
Image: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

If you want to be happier, you might want to ditch your phone.

It may be common knowledge that spending too much time on social media leads to disappointment with yourself, but according to data from Moment, an iPhone app that tracks app usage, there isn’t a single app that makes you feel good for spending more, rather than less, time on it. Not even Spotify.

Weekly, Moment asks users whether they’re happy with the time spent on each of their apps. The ratings are then used to compare the amount of time that “happy” users and “unhappy” users spend on each app. Apps for which “happy” users spend more time on than “unhappy” users meet the criteria for “time well spent.”

Moment publishes the list of apps that make the cut each week. It usually includes things like Google Calendar, Podcasts, Spotify, or Reminders—apps that help users stay organized, focused, or informed. But an analysis of app ratings aggregated over 2017 shows that, ultimately, no app that received 1,000 ratings or more actually made the time-well-spent criteria. In other words, all apps have diminishing returns over the long run.

As a result, apps that are designed to keep us hooked—whether gaming, messaging, or social media—register the highest user dissatisfaction, whereas apps that respect and don’t capitalize on our time generate very little. For example, 65% of We Chat users and 61% of Facebook users are unhappy with their time spent on the respective apps, compared with only 4% of Spotify users and 5% of Calendar users. The data shown in both charts span 2017 through the beginning of August.