Too Much Screen Time Per Day Keeps Productivity Away?

From a young age we are taught the importance of a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables. Most of us can easily recall the old proverb “ an apple a day keeps the doctor away” which seemed to perpetuate our childhoods. While this is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, there is also another diet which is just as important but rarely considered: how much media we consume per day. Looking at my own media usage, there was a great deal of denial until I started tracking the time spent on my phone. Slowly as data began to come in, it was sobering to see just how much of my energy and time was sucked away into texts, videos, and emails.

One of the most surprising aspects of this experiment was the sheer amount of time spent on my phone per day which was an average of 4 hours and 22 minutes, which adds to 30 hours and 34 minutes per week. That is nearly 31 hours that could be going towards productive goals that could produce a viable outcome in my life- not just a sense of escapism. Exploring deeper there were an average of 113 pickups and 66 notifications per day. Where exactly was my time going during all these hours?

Most of my time was split into three apps: Safari, YouTube, and texting. I was browsing through Safari on average of one hour and twenty-three minutes per day, YouTube for an average of one hour and eighteen minutes per day, and lastly texting for an average of fifty-four minutes per day. Why was so much of my time sucked into these apps? The answer may be found in psychology. First, apps like YouTube capitalize heavy on a system of choice architecture for users, which through an easily accessible interface leaves them with endless options. If you also consider the app’s algorithm that learns user preferences quickly, it is no surprise that my time is sucked away.

My media consumption in a nutshell

Another psychological concept that could explain the attraction to technological features like texting could be found in the chemicals dopamine and cortisol. Dopamine makes a person feel a sense of wellbeing, while cortisol is found in the fight or flight process. The brain learns to associate and release these chemicals each time a notification is received, and thus begins an addictive cycle for users.

While advances in technology have proven to be a good thing, it is important now more than ever that we are cautious about how much media we consume. After all, too much screen time can truly keep productivity away.

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