Change Your Phone’s Display to Grayscale

Many of us have mobile devices that have beautiful screens, and tons of digital content to keep us engaged. Each year a new fleet of devices is launched and we need to consider whether we need those extra 16 colors, blacker blacks, and a vivid display much more vivid than last year’s model.

The truth of the matter is that we spend too much of our time looking down at these displays, and this is by design. App developers and content creators spend a lot of time and resources keeping you engaged. They regularly make subtle tweaks to the environment to keep you from leaving and paying attention to other apps, services, and platforms. One of the key components of this is providing content that will keep you visually stimulated as your eyes are glued.

One possible response is to circumvent this challenge by turning your phone’s display to grayscale, and removing all color from the display.

Time Well Spent

Tristan Harris, former project manager at Google and founder of the non-profit Time Well Spent, has been talking a lot about how technology is engineered to be addictive and hijack our attention. He equates the lure of our digital devices to that of a slot machine.

Going gray

To combat phone addiction, Harris suggests enabling grayscale on your phone. It might not cure your love of screentime, but your apps and content will be a lot less appealing in black and white.

Image from Lifehacker

The process for enabling grayscale differs for different models of different phones.

To enable this on iPhones & iPads (from Lifehacker):

…go to Settings > General > Accessibility >Display Accommodations >Color Filters. Switch Color Filters on and select Grayscale. To easily toggle between color and grayscale, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Color Filters. Now, you just press the home button three times to enable grayscale. Triple-click again to go back to color.

To enable this on Android phones (from GadgetHacks):

  1. Enable Developer mode (by tapping build number within Settings > About phone multiple times
  2. Go to Developer Options and turn it on.
  3. Under Hardware accelerated rendering you will see option called Simulate color space, click it and set it to Monochromacy.

Cover image credit

About the author

Ian O'Byrne

Dr. W. Ian O’Byrne is a educator, researcher, & speaker. His work centers on teaching, learning, and technology. He investigates the literacy practices of individuals as they read, write, and communicate in online & hybrid spaces.

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