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Digital Detox Startups?

Hi, I have a few ideas in the "digital detox" space, which basically strives to give back people more quality offline time meanwhile still letting them enjoy the best out there of social media and digital life.

I believe that just as humanity invented tools which let them control nature in many ways, which had unintended effects on the environment, and now governments and people are worried about protecting it. The same will happen for digital life. The connected people are like the coal miners of the past, we're both generating a huge amount of content that eventually gets consumed by another party, as well consuming too much of it. That will obviously will have a negative impact on society and I want to fight against those negative impacts.

Uh oh, soo...

I've been trying to research about this market, but it's quite hard to Google and so on. Does anybody knows Startups on this space or use some product and would like to share? I want to study the market a bit before I start building, so I don't end up with yet another pointless zero-impact side project.


9 pointsthiago_fm posted 3 months ago10 Comments
Jefro118 said 3 months ago:

As starting points I'd recommend checking out Digital Minimalism [0] (a concept and book by Cal Newport) and Tristan Harris' work at the Center For Humane Tech [1].

There are lots of products that try to help people spend less time on social media. There are website/app blockers for this (including mine [2]) and tools like Rescue Time [3] which tell you where you're spending your time.

There are communities around this too like https://www.reddit.com/r/nosurf

Also, device makers, Apple especially, are starting to pay more attention to this. Even Facebook has made some steps in this direction (partly by co-opting the "Time Well Spent" phrase that Tristan Harris pushed) but they are too incentivised to do the opposite here and it's unlikely they'll do much of their own volition.

[0] - http://www.calnewport.com/books/digital-minimalism/

[1] - https://humanetech.com/

[2] - https://www.deepmode.app/

[3] - https://www.rescuetime.com/

stevesearer said 3 months ago:

After trying out a dumb phone for a while last year, I found I still wanted modern phone features like camera, decent text messaging, shared calendar, maps, etc..

One idea in Make Time [1] was the idea of deleting distracting apps from your phone, which makes your phone into an amazing tool that does not foster distraction. I found this to be better than using Apple/Facebook/Google time management tools since it keeps me in control and not still relying on them and their tools.

When I want to check Instagram I use the website and if I would like to post, I just download the app again and log in.

[1] - https://www.amazon.com/Make-Time-Focus-Matters-Every/dp/0525...

thiago_fm said 3 months ago:

Hey Jefro118, humanetech is amazing! I didn't know it. It's exactly what I've been thinking the whole time, but never saw other people talking on that way. It's kind of the "philosophy" behind what I want to change.

I've used rescue time before, Deepmode is pretty nice. Very neat.

Do you work on this space?

Jefro118 said 3 months ago:

It's more something I do on the side - Deepmode is something I started building for myself and then decided I should try to turn it into a real product for others to use too. I'm not an expert but I've been doing a lot of reading in this area to make the product better and understand peoples needs.

chrisswanda said 3 months ago:

I've been teaching wilderness survival and outdoors skills for years. I've been thinking of migrating "digital detox" into some type of outdoors settings, environment with a focus on doing nothing. (Plus if your phone doesn't work, you're stuck in the woods anyway...).

I'll be interested in the comments here for some ideas also.

Zee2 said 3 months ago:

There's a pretty significant movement among the current tech giants for allowing users to monitor their usage of technology and their various devices. iOS and Android both now support their own versions of a "screen time" monitoring system, providing exact information on each app's usage, notification traffic, etc.

So a sort of "detox" mindset, or at least a "healthy usage" mindset is definitely present in the current tech market. In addition, there was that strange "Palm phone" released recently that was marketed as a sort of weird "un-phone" that would actively discourage you from using your main phone. I'm not sure exactly how effective that is, but it is apparently enough of a part of the current technology consciousness to justify a marketing push...

avichalp said 3 months ago:

I find the concept of calm technology [0] interesting. There has been some research in this space. Calm tech provides UX guidelines to build products that are not sticky but still has great utility.

[0] https://calmtech.com/

solresol said 3 months ago:

I went through a no-smartphone phase for a while (in order to do a digital detox). I asked on reddit if anyone was interested in some tech to support that...


I do also believe that the retro-tech movement (being offline, uninstall Facebook, digital Amish -- it has many names) is a thing. But I can't figure out how to reach the community efficiently.

eswat said 3 months ago:

Probably the best way is to look for the tentpoles that get the most attention – Digital Minimalism/Cal Newport, Center for Humane Technology/Tristan Harris – and follow the discussions around them to see if any other communities arise from them.

cfarm said 3 months ago:

Lightphone makes a dumb phone that lets you swap out your smart phone for a while https://www.thelightphone.com