2degrees launches 'Real Mode' app to help Kiwis balance online and offline lives

Real Mode on a mobile phone
Every 15 minutes spent away from the phone will earn a chance to win prizes. Photo credit: Newshub

Mobile phone provider 2degrees has launched a new web app to encourage Kiwis to put down their phone and concentrate on their real lives.

Real Mode, which is available to any mobile phone user in Aotearoa, is designed to help the large number of people who want a better balance but don't know how to achieve it.

According to recent research on a representative sample of 519 New Zealanders, 46 percent of those surveyed over 18 want to better manage their use of technology. That jumps to nearly two-thirds when the age range is narrowed to between 18 and 39.

Real Mode allows users to put an 'out of office' on their social media channels. For every 15 minutes it's activated, users will go into a draw to win experiences that encourage living in the moment such as movie tickets and restaurant vouchers.

The company is hoping that this can help the one in 10 Kiwis who told the survey they had missed important life moments because of digital distractions.

"Mobile phones and digital technology enable us to live our lives and allow us to do our jobs, but we all know how easy it is to get caught up in constant status updates, reels, GIFs and the latest TikTok trends," Mark Aue, CEO at 2degrees said.

"Getting that balance right between online and real life is key but over half [of those surveyed] don't currently have strategies to manage screen time."

 There are even some suggestions on the company's website with what to do with the downtime, including pea-knuckle wars and building a pillow fort, doing "whatever it takes to keep siblings and responsibilities out".

"To make New Zealand a better place to live we want to encourage Kiwis to use technology in a way that supports them to be happy and productive, while also making sure they are taking time to reboot, connect, and enjoy unfiltered moments in person away from the online world," Aue said.

That means more conversations and connections at the dinner table, sports clubs and concerts, the company said.

That extra time to talk and relax offline could come in handy on Valentine's Day, with the research showing almost a quarter of those surveyed aged between 18 and 39 had argued with their partner or family about them being distracted by their phones.

From the same group, 13 percent even said they had broken up with their partner due to their phone or online habits.

The survey also showed a generation gap when it came to difficult conversations.

Around 80 percent of those over 60 believe resigning from a job or telling someone difficult news needs to happen in person, but less than 60 percent of all 18-39 year-olds agree.

"Everyone's lives are different, but we believe everyone could benefit from being a bit more intentional about using their phone," Aue said.

"We want to help Kiwis switch their phones off from time to time and switch on to each other."