The apps on our smartphones can produce a range of emotions, and they’re not always positive. The time we spend tapping our screens can leave us anxious, envious, depressed or angry. Even Facebook admits this — well, kind of.

At Moment — a free Apple iOS app that tracks users’ screen time and helps them limit their app usage — the team recently partnered with the Center for Humane Technology, an initiative that questions technology’s impact on human well being, to determine what apps leave us most happy, and which leave us most unhappy.

The goal: To encourage more self-awareness about app use and offer some impetus to change negative habits.

For the project, Moment asked thousands of users (mostly based in the United States and Europe) a simple, yes or no question about the apps they use on their phones: “Are you happy with your time spent?”

Happiness is not easily defined, but according to the app rating responses, the apps that yield the most “happiness” are Sonos, Audible, Headspace and Sleep Cycle. The apps that yield the most “unhappiness” are Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and Reddit.

An important component of the data is the amount of time spent using an app. “I wanted to find the happiness breaking point for each app,” explains Moment designer Kevin Holesh who shares regular updates and musings on Moment user statistics on Twitter.

In the case of Facebook, Moment found that point to be 18 minutes a day. Such moderate usage was found to even boost an app user’s mood. But 47 minutes veered into unhappy territory.

Holesh says Facebook’s business model depends on engagement and ad revenue, not on making people happy, and speculates that they would not willingly cut down on engagement.

So if you find your mood declining while on your smartphone, perhaps you’ve spent more than your daily happy time on your favorite app? And if you find you’re struggling to close that app, remember, there’s an app now to help you do that, too.

App “happiness” and “unhappiness” reported by Moment app users


Data source: Moment App Survey results shared by Kevin Holesh, February 2018 (an earlier data set appeared on Center for Humane Technology in 2017)