How to track and limit screen time on your Android phone

It can be all too easy to spend too much time on your phone, cycling through social media posts, news updates, video clips, messaging apps and then back round again. Before you know it, half an hour or more has gone by, and you’ve accomplished very little.

If you’re looking to get a better balance between the time you spend staring at your phone screen and the time you spend doing everything else, Android has a tool that can help. It’s called Digital Wellbeing, and like Screen Time for the iPhone, it can tell you about your phone use and help you set up limits on it.

Digital Wellbeing is enabled by default, so the first time you open it, you should find that it’s already keeping tabs on what you get up to on your phone. It’s available across Android devices from all manufacturers, so you should be able to get at it whether you’re using a Google Pixel, a Samsung Galaxy, or any other Android phone.

To find Digital Wellbeing, open Settings and scroll down to Digital Wellbeing and parental controls. If you have your kids set up through Google Family Link, you can use Digital Wellbeing to put limits on what your children can do on their devices, but here, we’ll focus on how to use it for yourself.

Tracking phone usage

Digital Wellbeing shows you how you’ve been using your phone.

You can compare phone usage across a week.

The opening screen of the Digital Wellbeing app shows you how you’ve been using your phone so far today, with a circle chart showing the time spent in each app and how long you’ve been on your phone in total. Below that, you can see how many times you’ve unlocked your phone that day and how many notifications have come in.

  • Tap anywhere on the circle chart to see a bar chart showing your stats for today compared with other days that week, together with a list of recently used apps. That screen is called your Dashboard. You can also access it by choosing Dashboard from the main Digital Wellbeing screen.  
  • Tap on any bar to see the minutes-per-app breakdown.
  • Swipe left or right on the bar chart to jump between weeks. Below the chart, you’ll see today’s date; you can tap on the arrows to the side of the date to scroll day by day.
  • Tap the Screen time drop-down menu that’s above the bar chart to switch between Screen time, Notifications received, and Times opened. The bar chart will update to reflect your choice.

Below the bar chart, you’ll get a list of apps, sorted in order. Depending on what’s selected from the Screen time menu, you’ll see the apps you’ve spent the most time in, the apps with the most notifications, or the apps you’ve opened the most at the top.

Setting app limits

You can set daily time limits for apps.

When your time is up inside an app, you get a pop-up notification.

From the dashboard, you can…