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Arianna Huffington launches app to combat technology addiction

Posted at 1:43 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 13:43:59-05

(CNN) – Arianna Huffington wants you to put down your phone.

Her new media and technology company, Thrive Global, has launched a smartphone app that helps you disconnect by muting notifications and responding to text messages on your behalf.

Huffington said she hopes the app can address the growing problem of technology addiction.

“Listen, technology’s amazing – it’s transformed our lives,” Huffington said. “But we’re now at the stage when we need to recalibrate our relationship with tech, because otherwise it’s destroying our humanity.”

Huffington said data shows that overreliance on technology is harming users’ productivity and relationships, and that it’s also making younger users more susceptible to depression, anxiety and even suicide.

The new Thrive app will help consumers set boundaries between themselves and their tech by putting their phones in “thrive mode,” which for a set time period will filter out notifications and messages except from contacts on a user’s VIP list.

“So, if you have a child, if you have an aged parent, if you have somebody at work who needs to get through to you, they’ll be able to get through to you,” Huffington said. “So, you’re actually empowered to disconnect knowing you’re not going to miss anything important, but you’re not going to be deluged by notifications about how many people liked your Instagram photo.”

A phone set to thrive mode will automatically respond to messages from a non-VIP user by saying the sender is not really being ignored – the receiver is just in thrive mode.

Despite its purpose to limit smartphone use, Huffington doesn’t consider the new app as anti-technology.

“We love technology,” Huffington said. “This is a little bit like, if you think of it, electricity. We turn the lights off at night to get a good night’s sleep. That doesn’t make us anti-electricity." 

The app can be downloaded free for the Samsung Galaxy Note8, though Huffington said she hopes to make it available for more devices soon.

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