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September 26, 2023

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Student creates app to curb unhealthy screen habits

The virtual world has become increasingly popular with the advancement of information technology. In such a situation, time management apps are the need of the hour.

ZenZone, a student-created app, is one of them.

ZenZone promotes mental health by assisting users in curbing unhealthy screen habits. The “Focus Periods” are designed to remove distractions. Users can create block lists depending on work scenarios and requirements. They can also foster community and encourage friends and family to share their progress.

Luke Penaloza, a senior in Shanghai American School Puxi, created the app after discovering how social media and Internet addiction were detrimental to his life.

Penaloza often found himself juggling computer games, household chores and homework.

His gaming device broke one day in the summer of 2021. Penaloza suddenly found time to spend with his family. It was like a bliss he’d never felt before, which inspired him to create ZenZone in the first place.

“I find that when we spend too much time on the Internet, even if it is with family, we have less communication,” Penaloza said. “I believe that face-to-face communication can never be replaced, so I wanted to help improve that.”

Penaloza designed ZenZone after conducting market research, consulting Chinese business leaders, completing a Wharton summer course, and spending hours perfecting his concept.

“I did a lot of research and put my heart and soul into creating ZenZone,” Penaloza said. “The biggest difference from the other software on the market is that ZenZone is trying to help people form habits.”

Penaloza said that ZenZone’s biggest feature is its ability to “share.”

“A person may want to give up when they do something, but when you can share it, it becomes fun,” Penaloza said.

“That’s why social media is amazing at bringing people together. It is a core element of the human experience to share triumphs, which is precisely why ZenZone focuses on its ‘Share’ feature.”

ZenZone can also generate useful statistics. It collects a variety of useful data points that provide insight into screen habits, such as which distractions users try to access.

The MacOS app is now available for download via, and the iOS app will be launched later this month. As for Windows and Android users, the ZenZone team has already commenced the production process and the app will be available in the coming months.

“I hope it gets better,” Penaloza said of the app’s possibilities. “I’m very grateful to my team and all the people who helped me create ZenZone.”


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