Commentary

Is It Time For The Big TV Turnoff?

Too much screen time? Maybe you need a break -- or a brake.

At its annual developers conference, Apple revealed Screen Time, a feature that encourages people to limit app usage on their iPhones and iPads. A built-in App Timer can set limits on certain apps, reminding the user to move on after 30 minutes or an hour.

In a related story, reality TV competition host Simon Cowell admitted he hasn’t used his mobile phone in 10 months. He says it's “so good for my mental health.”

This sentiment is something Apple wants to factor into the consumer experience with its products.

Is this a sign of things to come on a broader basis? Perhaps TV networks (or TV set manufacturers) should do the same. That’s right. TV business executives should encourage less TV viewing. (Hey, many networks are already encouraging less TV advertising viewing!)

Why is Apple doing this? It would seem, for the long term, that this would result in a positive for consumers. That is, turn off -- refresh -- and turn on.

Now, when you are in the digital media business -- with advertising and subscription revenues continuing to soar, as well as personal-device spending on the rise -- it may be easy for Apple’s business to offer a feature encouraging us to limit screen time.

Apple apparently doesn’t want consumers to have any inkling of resentment when it comes to media usage -- or their personal devices.

TV? Well, there is the remote control device's “off” button. It can do the same trick when it comes to slowing down one’s weekly TV viewing. But is that enough? Perhaps we need a push -- like a personal trainer might do.

Maybe while watching Netflix, CBS, ESPN, NBC or AMC Network on the TV screen, Siri, Alexa or another home assistant -- during a natural break in the action -- might suggest in an audio or visual prompt:

“Hey, Wayne. Why not take a break after watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”? Go outside. Look at the stars. And then come back and act like a celebrity. Watch ‘America’s Got Talent’ with Simon Cowell.”

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