If you find that it’s hard to look away from your phone, there’s a good reason for that: it was designed that way. A few years ago, former Design Ethicist at Google and founder of the non-profit Time Well Spent Tristan Harris made the rounds, talking about how technology is engineered to be addictive and hijack our attention. He was pretty persuasive, and compared the lure of your phone to the that of a slot machine.
Most of the time, you check your phone and there’s nothing interesting—no notifications, just the same old apps staring back at you. But sometimes checking your phone is rewarding —you get an amusing text, a flurry of likes, an email containing good news. This hit is satisfactory enough to keep you returning, checking your phone compulsively for another dopamine jolt.
To combat phone addiction, Harris suggests enabling grayscale on your phone. It might not cure your addiction completely, but certainly Instagram and Snapchat are going to be a lot less appealing in black and white than they are in technicolor.
The process for enabling grayscale differs for different models of Android phones, but it’s typically accessed via the “Accessibility” menu. For example, in iOS, go to Settings > General > Accessibility >Display Accommodations >Color Filters. Switch Color Filters on and select Grayscale. To easily toggle between color and grayscale, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Color Filters. Now, you just press the home button three times to enable grayscale. Triple-click again to go back to color.
Image by Lifehacker.
This story was originally published in 2017 and updated with new information on 2/18/2020.