How to Control Your YouTube Addiction

Another video is my evening mantra. As important as a good night’s sleep is, late at night David always finds it even more important to watch the latest interesting YouTube video, or maybe another related video after that. YouTube can suck, especially during quarantine, but you have a few settings you can use to reduce its appeal.

Pause YouTube

Let’s start with the simplest method: shame. Open the YouTube app on Android or iOS and tap your face in the upper right corner (or whatever you use for your profile picture). If you are using Android, click “Watching Time”; if you are using iOS, tap Settings and then Watch Time. Prepare to feel bad.

Uf. Let’s not talk about it. But this handy little table should tell you how much of your precious time you are spending watching other people’s cute dogs on YouTube (computer or apps). If that is enough to get rid of the obsession, you have a strong will, and I salute you. It’s time for me and everyone else to call for help.

How about a gentle YouTube reminder?

On iOS, scroll down a bit on this screen and you’ll see a section called YouTube Time Management Tools. Turn on the first option, “Remind me to take a break,” and you will be prompted to set the frequency at which the application should remind you to put down your phone and do something else.

If you click on Mute Sounds & Notifications , you can also set a Do Not Disturb time for when you prefer not to be disturbed by YouTube. This way, the notification won’t send you down the YouTube spiral 10 minutes before you’re about to fall asleep.

Compress your YouTube notifications into one digest

If you enable the Scheduled Digest feature, you will not receive continuous notifications through the app; they will be presented in the form of a single daily digest, which can then be viewed at a convenient time for you. Ideally, you should schedule this to arrive sometime in the afternoon rather than an hour before bed.

Let YouTube tell you when it’s time to sleep

I don’t have this feature yet on my iOS or Android version of YouTube – even as part of beta testing , unfortunately – but Google is rolling out a new “time to sleep” option that you can turn on in YouTube Settings. When you do, you will receive a small message every day at any time you set that you should probably turn off YouTube and go to bed. You can of course defer this notice, or even (presumably) prevent YouTube from displaying it when you are watching a real video, rather than just watching it.

To be honest, I’m a little surprised that Google would offer such a blatant “stop using our app now” message, but I’m grateful for that. I’m not sure how effective it would be until I tried it, but it certainly sounds like a great way to remind myself that it’s before bed, which is much more enjoyable than looking up and realizing it’s an hour past sleep, because that you’ve been too busy watching an hour-long Stellaris walkthrough video.


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