Getting a digital detox, the Swiss way: One app shows you how to dodge smartphone addiction

If you're worried you're getting a little too attached to your smartphone, one telco is offering its customers an app for switching off.

Every since the BlackBerry became the exec's status symbol of choice, smartphone addiction has started to take hold among mobile users.

Can't stop checking your messages? Real life events like going to the cinema or taking your partner to dinner getting in the way of reading your emails? Then the solution to your problem could well be at hand, in the form of a digital detox that offers you time out from the online world.

How do you do that? With an app, of course.

Switzerland's biggest telco Swisscom today launched the My Time app, which tracks what's happening on your smartphone to help you switch off. The app shows how often you unlock your phone, when you use it most and how, and gives you a score.

The higher your My Time score the better, as it shows more focused, less frequent use of your phone. Your score is boosted, for example, if you use the phone for a concentrated period of time. Reading or talking on your phone for half an hour ranks as highly as not using the phone at all for the same period, for example, and scores far better than unlocking your phone every few minutes.

Depending on the offline profile you set up, the app will block calls and apps of your choice. You can decide which contacts – hello mum – can get through anytime and will send a SMS to people who contact you to let them know when you will be available. When you do go back online, it provides a summary of what you've missed.

Swisscom says the app can help users gain a better understanding of how they use their phones, which will make it easier for them to consciously schedule downtime.

While that might seem counterintuitive for a mobile telecoms operator, it's simply accepting current practice. A survey of French and German-speaking Swiss internet users, conducted by the Link Institute for Swisscom, showed that 60 percent switched their smartphone off for a set period of time so as not to be disturbed.

The My Time app has been developed with German startup Offtime, based in Berlin. While My Time is only available on the Google Play store in Switzerland, Offtime has its own version of the app available. Both apps are only available for Android phones at the moment but iPhone and Windows Phone versions are due next year.

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