It’s a few days after the new year, and some of us are still using the excuse of putting off the New Year’s resolution diet until we finish the holiday left overs in the refrigerator. That like so many other resolutions barely get to see Valentines Day so why not list yet another resolution that we all should be making but really won’t.
What is that you may ask? Well, the answer is simple:
I resolve to reduce my social media and screen time.
Queue the sighs and roll eyes. What else would CyberSafeTT think of as a new year resolution? I’m just a 40 some-year-old man who is going to explain to you why the young kids of this new, crazy generation should follow in my wise footsteps and reduce their screen time.
So yes, that’s partly correct. I am 40-something however, on my own volition, I am choosing to consciously put down my iPhone and log out of my social media. This advice however is not only geared towards the younger generation as I do believe my peers can benefit from this as well. Let me share a little bit about why I think this is needed and hopefully you may consider doing the same.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed the way which we communicate, do business, work, and study. From a productivity perspective our screen time has probably quadrupled over the past two years and that’s not including time to ‘relax’ by binging a series on Netflix or mindless scrolling on Social Media. Nurturing this behavior day-in and day-out for just over 24 months, has turned it into a habit that I have come to realize is not all that healthy with regards to screen time.
I found that sometimes I would scroll through my newsfeed on Twitter for example, exit within minutes because I got bored, and then almost immediately reopen the app and start scrolling again. Even though I had just decided I was bored, I found myself going back just to scroll.
I also found myself having an actual unconscious reflex to take out my phone and scroll through social media. Initially this may happen if there was a lull in conversation or I wasn’t 100% engaged in a particular activity but now, and with the onset of Work From Home, I would open up a social media account just to scroll during a meeting without even thinking about it! (yeah you’ve done it too, I’m just foolish enough to publish it on a website)
I realized I was becoming one of those kids in the group at a birthday party who would be sitting in silence, all looking at social media on their phones instead of interacting with each-other. It became clear that the apparent lack of stimulation or drop in attention was being severely influenced by the need to have that screen time. In quite similar fashion to an addict searching for that next high.
Many parents have also complained that their kids have given up on their activities and hobbies some with detrimental outcomes. In years to come, kids who have given up on piano lessons or playing football will probably realize that those skills count towards extracurricular when applying to Universities!
So I decided to make this resolution of less screen time my New Year’s resolution and hopefully get others both young and old, to do the same. Research has shown that 88% of people fail to stick to a New year’s resolution. In order to avoid increasing that percentage, here are some of the things that I will attempt to stick to this resolve:
- Do not use social media for more than two hours each day
- Do not to use social media while spending time with friends or family,
- Do not revert to using social media just because there is nothing else to do.
- Enable screen time restrictions using the inbuilt features of iOS software for iPhones
- Reduce notifications and turn on do not disturb feature for specific times of day and night
- Stop charging my phone right next to my bed each night and putting it out of immediate reach therefore stoping social media from being the last thing I see before bed and the first thing I see when I wake up.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media and I have lectured on many occasions how the positives vastly outweigh the negatives. However, I have also drawn reference there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
I am hopeful however that as technology continues to accelerate that we all continue to enjoy social media while also keeping a watchful eye out to prevent it from taking over our lives.5