Mobile versions for Weibo, China’s version of Twitter and WeChat, are some of China’s most popular phone applications. But a new app has emerged that has users pulling away from such social media apps -- on purpose.
The “Early to Bed” phone app, currently only available to Android users, is the newest method to help Chinese people who are addicted to their mobile devices and are losing sleep as a result. China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that the app is gaining popularity among people who unintentionally lose sleep by spending time in bed browsing their social media accounts.
Users begin by setting a designated time to “sleep” their phone, at which point the phone is locked for two hours. Users can, however, postpone their “sleep” times, but the app sets off an alarm every five minutes after a designated time until the “sleep” command is hit. It also makes your struggle to disconnect public on social media; every time you delay the “sleep” command, a message is posted on a users WeChat page.
"The intention of the application, which makes use of the pressure from social circles to supervise the users, is to encourage young workers and students to return to the healthy habit of going to bed early,” Yang Yuan, the 23-year old Beijing-based developer of the application, told Xinhua.
The application specifically targets Chinese millennials, who feel the pressure to stay constantly connected and up-to-date. “I feel very tired when I leave the office every evening so I always tell myself that I have to go to bed early that night,” Xu Chenwei, a 26-year-old Shanghai bank clerk, said. “But the moment I lie down in bed, I pick up my cellphone to browse Weibo, WeChat, watch video clips or read novels. I feel that I haven’t fulfilled my daily tasks if I don’t do that before sleeping."
But it’s more than just millenials who are losing precious hours of sleep -- many are having a hard time disconnecting. According to China’s sleep index report, which was conducted by the Chinese Medical Doctor Association in March, 14 of every 100 Chinese people stay up past midnight, and the wide assortment of tablets and smartphones on the market have a lot to do with it.
The report shows that almost 70 percent of people in 20 different cities that were surveyed said that they used their phones or computers before going to bed, and among them, roughly half reported that they stayed up chatting online or playing games.
However, for the app’s developer, working on an Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone and iPad app is essential to keep people offline. “Even if the mobile phone is locked, people can switch to their iPad if they still want to chat online or play games,” Yang said.