Adding up ScreenTime: Does Meditation App Count?

A reader wants to exclude her meditation app from the count of how much time she spends online…

Can you subtract yoga/meditation/”me” time?

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I plan to set a good example for my teens and show them how to monitor their screentime. I have begun with an app that reports my total time spent online each Sunday. My issue is that I do guided meditation through a phone app. It’s at least a half-hour daily and that is bulking up my screen time. Do I have to count the time spent with the meditation app? Marnie, Newton

Dear Marnie: First of all, accolades for tracking your screen time and for helping your children do the same thing. Readers will find links to these tracking apps on the DearSmartphone resource page. Apparently, there is no way to exclude an app and even Google navigation, say used during a car commute, gets counted. The good news is that the app records your usage in granular detail, so when you talk about it with your kids, you can show them the average time you spend by category: for example, social media, meditation, shopping, and navigation. And, you can watch their usage as well. Muse onward!

Is Passenger Phone Safe to Answer?

Driver Distraction…Phones gone Bad.

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I noticed that you often take questions about drivers using phones. How about the case when a passenger uses their phone in the car, but someone else is driving them? Is this a safety issue or is it OK to do? TT, San Francisco

Dear TT: You question caught me off-guard, probably because I’ve seen all those movies where the hurried passenger in a taxi places call after call. Surprising, at least to me, it that it is not a good idea to make a call as a passenger. The literature says that overhearing only half of a conversation—a halfalogue”—is more distracting than other kinds of conversations because the listener misses the other side of the story. It’s serious: in the UK, passengers who take a phone call face a fine if they are training a new driver. Phones down. Thanks for elucidating me!

Kid’s Weekly Allowance Cash or Digital?

Should parents give kids a digital allowance? Rock, Paper, Phone!

Dear Ms. Smartphone: My children, ages 5 and 10 each get a weekly allowance for doing chores. The ten year old got a phone this year and asked me to put his amount, $10.00 per week, on a Venmo account. What do you think? Jaycee, Quincy

Dear Jaycee: That’s an interesting question. For readers who don’t know, Venmo is a popular app, one of many, that securely transfers digital payments between people, in lieu of paper money.

Your children will grow up in a world where digital payments will become the standard. But for now, I have two reservations about the digital allowance.

Buyers display less fiscal management and spend more when they use digital payments/ credit cards. Parents need to show their children how to save money, as well as spend it. Second, giving your child money to spend online will encourage him to be online more often. Since your child is only ten, it’s vital to monitor both his time and spending online.