20 twenty 20 is an Android utility for combating eye strain and couch potato syndrome with the 20-20-20 Rule.
20 twenty 20 is available on the Google Play store. If you'd like to build the latest version yourself, from source, you can check out the
develop branch on GitHub.
The 20-20-20 Rule
As seen on LifeHacker and various other sources, the 20-20-20 Rule is a simple guideline to mitigate eye strain for computer users:
Every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
The New York Times later published an updated rule to keep office workers from being desk-bound all day:
Every 20 minutes, walk 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more.
The short answer
According to the American Optometric Association, Computer Vision Syndrome/Digital Eye Strain (CVS) is a diagnosable medical condition with symptoms such as headaches, dry eyes, and blurred vision. It can be treated by simple adjustments to your computer usage patterns, like following the 20-20-20 Rule.
If you're reading this, you're at risk for CVS, but it's well within your power to do something about it!
The Slightly-Longer Answer
In 2014, internet trends showed people across the world spend hours a day looking at computer screens (source: Gizmodo).
Most people look at a computer screen today- it's just a part of modern life. Computer Vision Syndrome is one of many health problems that sitting in front of a screen for an extended period of time can cause. Higher digital engagement may stimulate our minds, but it can also make our eyes tired and our bodies mushy. Science has demonstrated for some time that physical inactivity has negative effects on the body, such as an increased risk for some cardiovascular diseases, anxiety and depression, and obesity.
Whether you're working at a computer, playing on your phone, or watching TV, taking short breaks for physical activity can have profound effects on your long-term health. Even adding as little as two minutes of light-intensity exercise (e.g. walking around) every hour can lower risk of mortality by 33%! The 20-20-20 Rule is an excellent tool to keep you in control of your computer usage rather than the other way around.
For more on these topics, see Further Reading below.
Enter 20 twenty 20
While the 20-20-20 Rule is a simple and powerful guideline, remembering to follow it is easier said than done. For months, I set a manual 20 minute timer, counted 20 seconds while staring morosely at a far wall, and then restarted my timer before realizing I could do better. If I ever missed setting a new timer, I'd sometimes forget to do so for the rest of the day! While there are some programs that manage this through a computer, I couldn't take advantage of them if I was offline watching TV or reading on my tablet.
20 twenty 20 is an Android app that takes care of all of this for you. Since most people have their phones nearby at all times, it avoids the problem of being bound to a desk. Press Play in the app, and it will remind you every 20 minutes to take a break by recommending a light-to-medium intensity exercise. The app will also notify you when your break is done and you can get back to enjoying your computer media a bit more refreshed without having to monitor your break time yourself.
20 twenty 20 is also very flexible; if you only want to be reminded to take a break once every hour, but for ten minutes, that's fine! Or if you want to use a certain special ringtone for your reminders, that works too. You can suspend and resume the 20-20-20 cycle as often as you like, and easily schedule your break and work/play phases.
I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me. Be healthy and happy, and live well!
Feel free to shoot me a message with any questions.
For more rigorous academic treatments on computer eyestrain and the detrimental effects of sitting too long (sedentary lifestyles), the following resources may be helpful:
Computer Vision Syndrome / Digital Eye Strain
- Loh K, Redd S. Understanding and Preventing Computer Vision Syndrome. Malaysian Family Physician : the Official Journal of the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia. 2008;3(3):128-130.
- Rosenfield, M. (2011), Computer vision syndrome: a review of ocular causes and potential treatments. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 31: 502–515. doi:10.1111/j.1475-1313.2011.00834.x
Physical Inactivity / Sedentary Lifestyles
- Hamilton MT, Healy GN, Dunstan DW, Zderic TW, Owen N. Too Little Exercise and Too Much Sitting: Inactivity Physiology and the Need for New Recommendations on Sedentary Behavior. Current cardiovascular risk reports. 2008;2(4):292-298. doi:10.1007/s12170-008-0054-8.
- Owen N, Sparling PB, Healy GN, Dunstan DW, Matthews CE. Sedentary Behavior: Emerging Evidence for a New Health Risk. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010;85(12):1138-1141. doi:10.4065/mcp.2010.0444.
Automatically Collected Information
In addition, the Application may collect certain information automatically, including, but not limited to, the type of mobile device you use, your mobile operating system, and information about the way you use the Application.
Only aggregated, anonymized data is periodically transmitted to external services to help us improve the Application and our service. We will share your information with third parties only in the ways that are described in this privacy statement.
Does the Application collect precise real time location information of the device?
When you use the mobile application, we may use GPS technology (or other similar technology) to determine your current location in order to calculate your local sunrise/sunset time for the night mode theme. This calculation is done on your device by the Android operating system, and your location is not sent to any external system. We will not share your current location with other users or partners.
If you do not want us to use your location for the purposes set forth above, you should turn off the location services for the mobile application located in your mobile phone settings and/or within the mobile application.
We may disclose User Provided and Automatically Collected Information:
- as required by law, such as to comply with a subpoena, or similar legal process;
- when we believe in good faith that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights, protect your safety or the safety of others, investigate fraud, or respond to a government request;
- with our trusted services providers who work on our behalf, do not have an independent use of the information we disclose to them, and have agreed to adhere to the rules set forth in this privacy statement.
- if 20 twenty 20 is involved in a merger, acquisition, or sale of all or a portion of its assets, you will be notified via email and/or a prominent notice on our Web site of any change in ownership or uses of this information, as well as any choices you may have regarding this information.
What are my opt-out rights?
You can stop all collection of information by the Application easily by uninstalling the Application. You may use the standard uninstall processes as may be available as part of your mobile device or via the mobile application marketplace or network.
If your Android 6.0+ device has provided the app access to your location, you may turn off this access via either the application's Settings menu or your device's Settings menu.