Over the course of the past year, the conversation around screen time and technology addiction has completely exploded. It’s all over the news, on the bookshelves, and it’s top of mind for parents, white-collar workers, and pretty much everyone with a smartphone — which is to say, pretty much everyone. The sentence “I’m trying to spend less time on social media,” is perhaps now just as common as, “I’m trying to cut back on carbs.” It’s approaching meme-status. But also, it’s worth taking seriously.
Today, Readup is launching Stats, and in doing so, we’re flipping the script. We know this might sound crazy at first, but we think we’ve built the first version of screen time that’s really, truly good for you.
Stats is one of the most exciting and important features we’ve ever built. So important, in fact, that it gets its own big button in the top-level navigation. The idea is simple: Stats shows you your reading performance over time. No gimmicks. No bells or whistles. Just a graph (a pretty one, we think!) that you can adjust for a few different timescales.
When we talk about screen time, we’re usually talking about how when we try to get information from the web, it tends to suck us into these addicting loops. Or the way that we can’t help but sneak a glance at an ad that draws us away from what we were trying to do. Everybody now knows that these miniscule distractions add up. They wreak havoc on our minds and emotions in subtle yet obvious ways. Thus, we’ve come to think of screen time in purely negative terms.
But screen time doesn’t have to be negative.
You’re not thinking about the negative when you’re video chatting with your best friend abroad. Or coordinating dinner plans with your family. Of course there’s such thing as healthy screen time. Even the most stalwart leaders of the anti-tech movement agree on that. But that’s not what the hullabaloo is all about.
The thing is, until now, there’s never been a way to measure (and do more of) the good stuff. Especially in the ambiguous, often treacherous zone we might call “digital media consumption.” Trying to figure out what’s going on in the world feels like diving into an abyss. That’s where Readup stands out. It’s good for you for the exact same reason that reading is good for you; it’s one of very few undeniably healthy things that one can do when looking at a screen.
And the goodness doesn’t go away when you’re done reading. Many of our users report having excellent conversations in real life about topics and stories they were first exposed to through reading on Readup. And when two people who know each other are both on Readup, the experience is even more profound. Reading opens the door to knowledge on any topic you can possibly dream about. You won’t be thinking about the negative effects of screen time when you’re telling your friends about what’s going on in the Middle East, or debriefing a heart-wrenching short story that you and your partner both loved.
Due to growing anti-tech sentiments, a movement around “humane” technology is growing. A majority of these companies are building trackers (so that you can analyze the ways in which you might be wasting your time), blockers (to help you fight back against harmful sites, feeds and ads) and meditation apps. Readup doesn’t fit cleanly into any of of these categories. To an extent, we’re more like D) All of the above. But, then again, we’re also E) None of the above.
The main distinction between Readup and everything else out there is that we’re not telling you what not to do. Restrictive diets don’t work. Shame is lame. It’s not helpful to keep track of the bad. Running might not be fun at first, but if you can accomplish the mental mind-switch to convince yourself to enjoy the work, the sweat, the challenge, it can really change your life.
The new Stats page was designed with these principles in mind. We’re not showing you what you shouldn’t be doing, we’re helping you celebrate something that’s fulfilling and fun. So go ahead. Read as much as you want. We dare you to binge-read! That’s like going for a long run instead of a short one. Or eating two salads in a day instead of one. With real reading as true north, there’s really no way you can go wrong.
Our goal is to completely reinvent social media. When we started, the nefarious nature of screen time was an obscure topic discussed amongst techies and a few intrepid journalists. We like to feel ahead of the curve, but we’re perfectly aware that our “idea” isn’t new. The awesomeness of reading goes back centuries. We’re just trying to undo the negative effects that digitization has had on an otherwise sacred, time-honored leisure activity.
In short, we’re trying to restore reading to it’s pre-screen glory, on the screen. And in order to get screen reading to look and feel as much like a book as possible, there’s no room to cut corners.
We’re the first social media network to show users their “time spent” because we’re confident that reading is time well spent. It’s no secret why other platforms hide this kind of information - because their users would be horrified to see how much time they spend doing something they wish they weren’t doing. Unlike getting stuck in your Newsfeed, getting lost in a great article or story is a wonderful thing. There’s a scientific explanation for this, but it’s also just common sense. Deep, focused reading stimulates the brain.
Just before launch, we got this in an email from a user: “I would love to know what my overall read time is. gosh, if i could only replace 10 or 20% of my phone screen time with actually reading time I feel like I’d be well on my way to genius status. or at least bliss.” That’s exactly the value proposition, in clearer terms than we could have come up with ourselves: Stats = genius status + bliss.
How are your stats? What are your goals? This is just the beginning of more comprehensive Stats experience, so let us know what you think and what you’d like to see next.