When Coronavirus started affecting habits of sociality during lockdowns, humans turned toward their smartphones’ screens.
Within March alone, Twitter was topped up with the stories of shock and amazement. People were posting picture grabs of their increased screen time. Although some excused themselves saying that it is an unprecedented time, many were horrified that smartphones had eaten up more than seven days of a month of their life.
Those were the days when people were anxiously looking for every bit of news created and fed by the coronavirus pandemic. These bits and bytes of anxieties fueled their loneliness more and more. People wanted to remain connected, but governmental prohibitions did not allow them to connect physically. These lockdowns on social lives in the name of social distancing produced the prime numbers that were frightening.
The world spent 1.6 Trillion hours on smartphones till mid-August 2020. (App Annie)
Indonesians spent an average of 6 hours a day on phones in early 2020. Indians were second with 4.8 hours of usage up by 37%. (App Annie)
Time spent on phones increased by 24% to 4.3 hours per day in March driven primarily by the lockdown. (App Annie)
Now compare it with 2019. People spent around 3.15 hours a day on phones in 2019 or 47 days a year. (RescueTime)
Lockdowns induced by Coronavirus and thus work from home marked 2020 as a year when smartphones were the only saviour. Our digital consumption through screens increased many times.
Most people spend at least 1.15 minutes on their phones once they pick them up. And they pick them up roughly every 1.43 hours. (RescueTime)
The average user spent a quarter of their waking time on their phone: 4.3 hours (App Annie).
For many people, these numbers can be a warning or a shock. Experts have no consensus on the safe amount of screen time. They gently suggest that adults should limit their use of screens for about two hours a day.
Disconnection Is A Privilege
Long before Coronavirus, it was proved that disconnection has now become an elite’s privilege.
The most popular answer that is given is the digital detox. However, a digital detox is also a luxury; not many can afford, at least not without the cost of your job or your family.
We are doomed to be connected online at all time; otherwise, we will eventually be deleted from the servers of the corporations.
And perhaps the four and five hours of screen time we are concerned about right now will increase in future even further and can reach up to 10–15 hours a day.
Master’s Tool, Master’s House
All the solutions suggested come from those digital screens you are distressed with. These solutions do not necessarily talk about removing these devices. Instead, it gives you another master key (App) to keep you away.
Ultimately, the responsibility of your digital wellbeing is completely yours.
They know when people say they want digital detox, they don’t mean it necessarily.
Probably writer Audre Lorde wrote these words for situations like this-
The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.
Apple’s Screen Time and Google’s Digital Wellbeing are two major master key to your digital wellbeing. Both allow you to monitor the time you spend on your phone. Screen Time will let you use the app uninterrupted until you pass that limit. In Google’s App, if you set an app timer, the app will lockdown after you finish your time. The icon will be greyed out. In both of the cases, they allow you to set quiet hours for the night.
Once you start using, you are dependent on these for the data and knowledge of your misuse. Interestingly, this crucial data of your habits is also collected in the name of improvement of your tech experience.
In turn, this data empowers tech companies to come up with more sophisticated and advanced technology that can make you addicted unobtrusively. Ultimately, responsibility is yours only.
Don’t Worry, Digital Detox Will Take Care of You
This phrase is used often in connection with intrusive technology. Digital Detox industry encourages you to employ limiting measures to your smartphones’ screens.
Now there are hotels encouraging guests to take a break with their smartphones by locking up them. Digital Detox Retreats are available, like Summer Camp for Adults and other Digital Detox Experiences. Also, there is a 30-day digital detox consultancy available by Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo, also known as Konmari.
“There are two motivations for taking a 30-day break. The first is to detox from the compulsive urge to tap a screen at the slightest hint of boredom…The second purpose to this long duration, however, is arguably more important: to get back in touch with what you actually value.” writes, Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism.”
Because of this tech disruption, ex-Google manager Tristan Harris founded the Center for Humane Technology to reverse the “human downgrading” brought about by shortening attention spans.
There is also a whole new coaching genre emerging for keeping you productive through self-help books and human coaches.
Digital wellbeing evangelist Tanya Goodin started the Time to Log Off movement. She wrote a book Stop Staring at your Screen. She serves her insights to different organizations and schools as a digital consultant and consults them about how to keep yourself away from the screens. Another digital evangelist Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, says — spend more time on the things that matter and less on the things that don’t.
Does Screen Time Impact Productivity?
Yes, at least researchers believe now that screens are making a dent in your productivity. They have found that the cost of your interrupted work is 23.15 minutes. It simply means that you can only get back to the deep focus after that much time.
They say “interruptions lead people to change not only work rhythms but also strategies and mental states. Another possibility is that interruptions do in fact lengthen the time to perform a task but that this extra time only occurs directly after the interruption when reorienting back to the task, and it can be compensated for by a faster and more stressful working style.”
Experts at CodeComputerLove in a study suggest that we use smartphones mainly for messaging, browsing social media, reading news, listening to music, online shopping and entertaining videos. It means very little space for personal development. And if it is, it comes in the last six on the scale of 16 activities we do on our phones.
Many compare smartphones with credit cards. The only common thing is obsessive use.
Have you ever thought that if you did not spend three hours every day on your mobile phone, you could learn a new language in a certain period of time, or try a new musical instrument or read those books, you have in your list for a long time.
If that’s not the case, you may have wanted to go somewhere on vacation, for just four days, but your smartphone has already stolen five days of your life this month. Will you allow your smartphone stealing your precious time just like this?
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