For anyone who feels they’re too addicted to reading, texting, or just fooling around on their mobile device, The Atlantic has the solution for you. Dr. James Hamblin, senior editor of The Atlantic video series If Our Bodies Could Talk, has shared what he describes as “a life hack” for breaking digital device addiction: Turn your whole mobile device world gray.
As Dr. Hamblin explains it, “emotions and attention are tied to color perception.” As a result, mobile phones and tablets demand more of our attention and engage us so strongly partly through the colors on their screens. Turning the screen grayscale removes this overstimulation, and enables you to concentrate more on the value of the content rather than its emotive decoration, or simply to spend less time staring into your little screen.
The iPhone has long had grayscale as a screen option. For Android users, the process for obtaining grayscale on your device is described here. The results, to me, look slightly ghostly and creepy – naggingly like color blindness – but for some users it may be worth trying to see if the proclaimed benefits actually do kick in. That said, long periods of e-reading on your smartphone or tablet is liable to be one of the most monochromatic sustained experiences possible on said devices.
I can see one flaw in this whole argument, as well, and that’s the world’s favorite dedicated e-reading device, the Kindle. Obviously, that starts out grayscale in the first place with e-paper. Doesn’t seem likely that this makes Kindles less appealing or engaging for their readers. But then maybe it’s a different model in the first place. And if anyone ever wants to do a comparative usage study of Kindles versus other color-screen mobile devices, I’d be interested to see the results. Care to share, Amazon?