2223: Screen Time

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Screen Time
These new Bluetooth socks are great, but it's troubling to learn that I average almost 14 hours of Shoe Time a day.
Title text: These new Bluetooth socks are great, but it's troubling to learn that I average almost 14 hours of Shoe Time a day.


Cueball is reading the report from a smartphone app showing the average time each day that he was NOT looking at his phone during the hours he was awake this last week. This is a reversal of the more expected behavior for a screen-time app, which would normally report the amount of time spent looking at the screen. The point is that as mobile phone usage becomes more prevalent, it may be easier to comprehend to report non-screen time.

People in the US spent an average of 24 hours of non-work/education screen time per week in 2015, compared to 10 hours of active leisure, according to one estimate.[How free time became screen time] Averaged per day that comes to 3.4 hours screen time and 1.4 hours active leisure.

Screen time may be associated with various undesirable conditions, such as mental health difficulties like depression, decreased activity, reduced sleep quality and quantity.

In Cueball's particular case, if we assume that he is awake 17 hours a day (the average for most people in USA), then his non-screen time average of 2 hours 48 minutes means that he spent more than 84% of his awake time last week looking at a screen. This means that while his 6% improvement is positive, he still has quite a significant habit. His previous non-screen-time would have been 2 hours 38 minutes, so he has managed to shave 10 minutes off. Increased screen time often comes at the expense of decreased sleep time, so it may not be fair to assume a constant amount of sleep.[1][2]

Ironically, in order for Cueball to use the app, he has to be looking at his mobile screen. The increasing use of mobile devices in modern society has been a cause for concern, with many people arguing this leads to addiction, other health risks, or people simply not talking to each other.

The title text parodies the idea of a screen time app by describing a "shoe time" app, which would track the amount of time a person spends wearing shoes. It's unclear what the practical use for this would be, as there is little controversy about the prevalence of shoes in our society. Possibly an app that tracks the amount of time wearing specific shoes could be useful; for example, a person suffering medical problems from wearing the wrong footwear could track the amount of time they spend wearing particular shoes, and correlate this with their health to figure out which ones are causing problems.

Possibly, the point being made is that use of phones have become so constant in our lives that using them for many hours a day is as unremarkable as using shoes for many hours a day. Or, since it's the socks that are Bluetooth-enabled, they may be reporting negatively about almost constant obstruction by shoes, whereas the socks would prefer to report a much lower "Shoe Time" score.

Some cultures have the custom of taking shoes off when in the house, so those people would boast lower (and presumably more favorable) "Shoe Time" scores. It may also be a reference to the "shoe phone" on the television show Get Smart. (If Maxwell Smart wore these socks, they could track his phone usage, because his phone was in his shoe).


[Cueball is looking down at his phone. The text is what he reads on the screen, as shown by a zigzag line emanating from a starburst at the top of the phone.]
Phone: Screen time report:
Phone: While awake, you averaged 2H 48M per day looking at things other than your phone. That's up 6% from last week!
[Caption below the panel]
At some point, it starts making more sense to track non-screen time.

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Hello? Oh, sorry, I was busy not looking at this screen. -boB (talk) 15:35, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

I'm at work, but I just realized I need to lower my Show Time score. My socks are demanding it. -boB (talk) 19:31, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

I think my use tracking apps (yes, I have more than one) can be set to track how much time I spend using use tracking apps. 20:37, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

With apps like Automate, you can automate most of the use cases for use time tracking apps; it'll just take some time to learn how to use it.  ;S
ProphetZarquon (talk) 01:21, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

If I didn't arranged meeting using phone, I wouldn't have any people to talk to. Also, some of those complains are mixing up cause and effect: for example, in mass transit, people generally don't WANT to talk to other people, and before phones they usually read newspapers or books. In fact, that was already mentioned here wasn't it? Or did I mixed up 1227 with [1]? -- Hkmaly (talk) 00:12, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

The explanation incorrectly mentions that Cueball's screen time has lowered by 6%, while it's actually his non-screen time that has raised by 6%. That's not the same thing: if we do assume he's awake 16 hours per day, his screen time has only decreased by about 1.2%. 03:56, 4 November 2019 (UTC)

That is, unless Randall meant 6% of Cueball's entire awake time. I haven't thought of it until after posting. 03:59, 4 November 2019 (UTC)
A better approximation of non-sleep time would be 17 hours per day. Average sleep time in USA is a little under 7 hours/day. I adjusted the percent of day awake calculation accordingly. 00:05, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
No, 6%. It actually specifies "While awake.". Randall already thought of that. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:22, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Clearly someone doesn't know what the word "pun" means (see paragraph 2)

The mention of Bluetooth socks reminded me of the Netflix Socks that automatically pause playback if you fall asleep. http://makeit.netflix.com/projects/socks (Sorry if the link is broken, Netflix is blocked from work.) 14:44, 4 November 2019 (UTC)

In case anyone else is confused, Neatnit has been inserting the discussion section on display problems with Google ads from Comic #2220 in all later comics using a wiki tag, so that discussion section and any changes to it on Comic #2220 are reflected on these later comics. I'm guessing it's because the problem has persisted since #2220, so this is an attempt to maintain a single discussion and keep the issue visible until there's a resolution. If this is not the reason, then it's confusing and disruptive. If it's a meta-joke about going back in time, then it's getting old. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 21:03, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

Yes, that's right - it's to keep it visible. I should have been more vocal about it rather than just doing it silently... My bad.
However, the section's [edit] button will take you to the correct place, so it shouldn't be that confusing.
--NeatNit (talk) 12:38, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

Does Randall draw XKCD on his phone? How does the amount of non-screen time he reports compare with the tme he spends cartooning?[edit]

Does Randall draw XKCD on his phone? How does the amount of non-screen time he reports compare with the tme he spends cartooning? 00:29, 3 November 2019 (UTC)