Phones, computers, and other devices have gained a stronghold over people since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Since the time at home has increased, the fight against technology has gotten harder. Technology has won the battle by a long shot. Devices have taken over our lives and we need to find a way to set them down and enjoy the real world again.
The usage of technology has increased from the beginning of the pandemic to now. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, most internet companies have seen usage increase from 40% to a whopping 100%. Much of this increase has been created by in-person work being switched to online, and schools turning to virtual classrooms. During these unprecedented times, we use our devices to communicate even more; to talk to family and friends, to complete schoolwork, and just to kill time. Is technology taking away too much of our time?
The Washington Post has stated, on average, teens use their devices for about seven and a half hours, not including online schoolwork. If you factor in virtual assignments, the time would amount to about ten hours.
UWHealth has studied that some teens may check their social media accounts over 100 times per day. The use of technology may be validated by the circumstances we are in, but is the amount of time healthy for our wellbeing?
Technology is helping us stay connected during the pandemic, but it is hurting our physical health. The Sleep Health Foundation has reported the light coming from a device’s screen restricts the release of melatonin. This can cause a person to lose many hours of sleep.
Not only is our slumber affected, but our physical activity is reduced as well. In a study taken by BMC Public Health, they concluded children 5-13 participated in more physical activity during the pre-COVID-19 period of February 2020 compared to the early-COVID-19 months of April-May. Children would participate in about an hour of physical activity daily during the first month of the study, but over time exercise would decrease and the participants would turn to their devices as a form of exercise. Our health needs to be a priority during these troubling times, but we can only focus on it if we put the devices down.
During the times we are currently living in, it is normal to feel some added stress, and technology can be a part of the stress. The effects our devices have on our mental health should be taken into account, and we should have healthy ways to cope with those issues. During time online, the interactions we have with one another can be positive or negative, and Medical News Today explains that based on the type of communication, people will be more prone to have anxiety and depression.
Psychology Today adds, “A new study of over 1 million American high school students found that teens who spend more time on screens and less time on non-screen activities like face-to-face socializing, exercise, or homework were psychologically worse off. What’s more, the study found that when kids reported a shift to more screen-based activities, a decline in happiness followed, implying a cause-and-effect relationship.” Students all over the country are dealing with the effects their devices have on their mental health.
Taking a break from technology could help bring change. Though we will never be able to walk away from our devices fully, we should try to make small goals to lessen our time looking at the screens. UW Health explains by unplugging you will make closer relationships, have increased focus, a better sense of self worth, increased mindfulness, stress will be reduced, and you will obtain better physical health.
Just by turning off the screen people are making the first step at a better wellbeing. If you are not ready to give up your device for a long period of time, then start trying to figure out what online habits are hurting you more than helping you. Begin with giving the phone, computer, or television up for just a few hours and then build up to letting go when you’re ready. Limit time scrolling, give yourself time to enjoy the world around you.
The control technology has over us has increased, and it will probably never stop, but we need to work on stepping away and giving ourselves a break. Technology affects our physical health, our mental health, and our overall prosperity. By taking the time to understand our dependence on our devices, then we can make a plan which can set us up for success.