Wake up, check your phone. Eat breakfast, on your phone. Leave for school, text your mates. Sit in class, scrolling through Instagram under the desk. During intervals, snapchat your lunch and funny things happening with your mates. Go home, sit on the couch on your phone. Go to bed, watch YouTube until midnight. Check your phone. Go to sleep… NO! Check your phone one last time because you can’t sleep without checking Snapchat just one last time. Now go to sleep. Wake-up. REPEAT.
Sound familiar? While that may be slightly exaggerated for some people, this is the reality of our screen time today. It takes up insane amounts of our time and is with us virtually wherever we go. Social media is addictive, and that’s basically the explanation to all of this. From compulsive checking and oversharing, to the loss of workout opportunities, we may also be putting our physical and mental health at risk.
Just how deep does the problem go? Seventy-two percent of online people use social media and the average user spends 23 hours a week on it. 23 hours! That’s almost an entire day spent entirely on your phone. These 23 hours include texting, emailing and other online communication. So why are we using social media for the same amount of time as a part-time job? Sixty-seven percent of surveyed users said that they’re afraid they’ll “miss something.” This fear runs so deep that most users will check their social networks first thing in the morning, before anything else.
A great many people self-identify as addicts when it comes to their social media habits. I mean, we usually all have a fundamental need to be accepted by our peers. When we post something to Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, we want to see that contribution validated. We want our participation to matter, to be accepted by others… even total strangers. These minor validations can act as pleasure-inducing “hits” much like an addictive drink or drug, and for some can find themselves taking their social media habits to unhealthy extremes.
Unfortunately, this problem isn’t going to magically go away. Social media only gets better, app creators get more inventive, the content becomes addictive. You won’t simply get bored – they make sure of that. Therefore, it has to be a conscious effort on your behalf to cut down on the screen time. This can be really difficult so you may want to smart small, but with a large goal in mind. On iPhones now there is a setting that monitors your daily screen time. Depending on your average, try and bring your average amount of hours spent on your phone daily down by 15 minutes a week, or half an hour, or an hour – until you hit your goal time. Just remember the capability of your phone is meant to be bringing you forward, not holding you back.
Imagine how much exercise you could get — and how many cheeseburgers would burn — if you spend 30 percent less time on social media. Imagine how much more sleep you would get — and how good you would feel the next day — if you went to sleep as soon as you got into bed. Imagine how many dramas you would avoid with your friends if you discussed your problems face to face. Imagine how much BETTER life you be, if your memories were of your amazing life, not your screen!
- Why do you think being reducing screen time is important?
- Do you think it is important to reduce screen time in general or just time on social media?
- What are the health benefits of cutting down screen time? Think both mental and physical aspects.
Practical Thinking Questions:
- How are three easy ways during your day you can reduce screen time? i.e. not bringing your phone to school.
- Ask your parents if they think teenagers having phones is a good thing or a bad thing – even if all their friends have one.
- Do you think you can give up some screen time each day? List reasons why you should and reasons why you don’t want to. Decide what is more important for you.