Most people whether black, white, American, French, young, or old, generally start their day the same way.  That is, they look at some sort of screen.  This immediate screen use could be caused by a news program on their television, an email being read and received on a computer, tablet, or phone, or the powering up of a favorite app.  While we all enjoy the connectivity of today’s modern world, it is causing a disconnect elsewhere.  Relationships suffer-even those that began via a dating app.  Jealousy arrises when one sees the smiles on faces of friends that they weren’t there to witness.  FOMO sets in.  But these all pale in comparison to the dangers that new studies show are setting in amongst avid screen abusers.  Below are some alarming stats regarding screen use in The United States of America from the website: https://blog.rescuetime.com/screen-time-stats-2018/. 

“The true impact of our screen time isn’t just about how much time we spend on our devices. It’s about how often we use them.”

-On average, we spend 3 hours and 15 minutes a day on our phones

-The top 20% of smartphone users spend more than 4.5 hours a day on their phones. Find out more in the 2019 Screen Time Stats Report.

-Most people check their phones 58 times a day (with 30 of those during working hours)

And just how distracting are these check-ins?

-Most people spend about 1 minute and 15 seconds on their phone each time they pick them up. This means we’re losing 37.5 minutes a day during working hours to our phones (at a minimum).

-Half of all phone pickups happen within 3 minutes of a previous one

-Most people can’t go longer than 1 hour and 43 minutes without touching their phones during the day.

So why bombard you with all of these stats?  Is it really harmful to be on your phone constantly?  It seems as if the only downside to habitual phone use is a lack of productivity at work…. Not true.  Over the years, more and more healthcare officials are beginning to take notice.  Not only have obesity rates skyrocketed in the U.S. (not due in totality to screen time) but depression, anxiety, and other mental mood disorders have also been on the rise.  According to the World Health Organization, “The total estimated number of people living with depression worldwide increased by 18.4% between 2005 and 2015 to 322 million.”  Now, that is not to say that this is all due to screen use as well.  We want to be clear that this is not a fear mongering type post or an attempt to turn people away from social media, but statistics don’t lie.  While mood disorders are no longer as stigmatic as they once were, more people are getting the help they need.  This is a great thing.  But, are there things we can do to help prevent some mood disorders from occurring in the first place?  CNN’s phone application had an article this week titled, “Increasing social media use tied to rise in teens’ depressive symptoms, study says.”  In this article, the following statement was made…. “The researchers found that high levels of social media use over four years was associated with increased depression — and each one-hour increase in the average time students said they spent on social media was associated with an increase in the severity of depression symptoms within that same year.”  (https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/15/health/social-media-depression-teens-study/index.html)  

Again, we can hear you ask, “What shall we do?”  “How can we get off our phones and enjoy life a bit more?”  Well, it’s an addiction, and the habit must be broken.  To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Keep yourself on a schedule
  2. Turn off as many push notifications as possible
  3. Take distracting apps off your home screen
  4. Kick your device out of bed
  5. If you have a smart speaker, put it to use
  6. Try turning on your phone’s grayscale
  7. Stay accountable

Want to judge your progress?

Consider installing an app that tracks your smartphone habits, like QualityTime or Moment, so that you can set a specific usage goal and see how well you stick to it. (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/03/how-to-curb-you-smartphone-addiction-in-2018.html)

Test your mettle and spend a day or two without your phone.  We know that they are amazing tools-they can help you find your way around a crowded city or locate a long lost friend from high school.  But too much of something is rarely a good thing.  Disconnect every once in a while and take in the sights and sounds of life.  Your relationship and your health might just thank you for it.