Our generation is dealing with addictions of a different kind and maybe even more dangerous than smoking and alcohol addiction. No prizes for guessing because you know exactly what we are talking about. You have been there and done that — digital and social media addiction, addiction to your phone, your notifications, shopping apps, gaming apps, the list goes on!
Before you think we are blaming you, let us clarify that we are not. We understand that there is a paradigm shift in the way our world works. At the crux of this shift is the digital revolution. Surely, the world wouldn’t be what it is today if digital technology hadn’t been invented and advanced.
Large amounts of data processing, international and global communication, social media, online learning, etc. would be a figment of our imagination if it hadn’t been for digital technology. However, certain aspects of digital technology have interfered with human behaviour in an unfavourable and harmful manner and we need to address and remedy the same. We list out 5 ways to reduce screen time and overcome your digital addiction:
5 Ways To Reduce Screen Time
1. Ditch And Delete Those Apps
Addiction to apps is not to be taken lightly. For example, addiction to online shopping apps has become a serious psychological problem. According to a report in the Times Of India, Researchers from Hannover Medical School in Germany have classified extreme addiction to online shopping as ‘buying-shopping disorder’ (BSD).
According to the study, “BSD affects almost 5% of adults in developed countries…BSD is characterized by an extreme preoccupation with, and craving for, shopping, as well as urges to own certain goods.”
BSD has also given rise to an increase in online shopping fraud. Online shopping can lead to serious financial implications as well. When we buy things incessantly and blindly, we are in for some real trouble. Do you want your addiction to make you broke? Of course not! So let us be content with what we have and immediately delete the apps that you are addicted to.
2. Pay Up
In a time where free classes and tutorials are available online from the comfort of our home, not paying for something is very tempting. Avoid this mindset especially when you find yourself getting addicted to your screen. So pay up folks! When we pay for something, we feel a responsibility toward it. So, unsubscribe from that free YouTube yoga channel and register for a real class privately or in a group. Group classes are recommended because when you see others do something, it motivates you. This will keep you away from your phone and/or laptop screen and help you stay fit!
3. Make Commitments And Put Them On Record
Promises are not meant to be broken — if we all take this saying seriously, we would be much happier people. One way to break your digital addiction is to make plans and stick to them. Get out and about, make the effort to meet friends and family physically, and do fun things together. It will bring you closer to the people you love and also help you achieve a healthy life balance.
4. Develop Your Hobby
It would be unfair to say “I just don’t have the time” if only we realized the time we are spending on social media or Whatsapp, Netflix, etc. would we understand that we actually do have a lot of time on hand. We only have to make the right choice.
According to statistics by the World Health Organization, an average person will spend 3,462,390 minutes of their entire life on social media. This stat equals a staggering 6 years and 8 months of a person’s lifetime! (Source: Broadband Search, 2020). So get cooking, planting, painting, or whatever else you love doing!
5. Set An Alarm
This may sound too arbitrary but it will be worth it in the end. All of us want to catch up on our Whatsapp messages – they can be from friends and work too. Online meetings and learning as a result of the lockdown have also increased screen time and there is little we can do under these circumstances. Fair enough. But let’s not become so engrossed that we don’t do anything else e.g. finishing important errands or finishing an assignment, or helping our children with a school project. Decide the amount of time you wish to spend catching up on the social media buzz, Facebook, e-mail, Instagram, etc. and set an alarm. For example, if you decide you’ll spend 30 minutes – set an alarm for 30 minutes! Not a minute less or more.
According to Dave Asprey.com, the following are some serious problems associated with digital addiction:
- Heightened social media use can result in toxic behaviours such as depression, anxiety, low-self esteem and narcissism, anxiety, depression. These behaviours are particularly dangerous in teenagers and young people.
- Research has proven that working on smartphones at night results in low productivity and engagement the following morning. Smartphones are bigger culprits than tablets and television screens.
- Engaging with digital gadgets has adverse effects on our sleep. The blue light emanating from screens disrupts the natural sleep-wake cycle. Lack of proper sleep exposes us to illnesses like obesity, cancer, and diabetes.
- Prolonged periods of screen time affects concentration and our ability to focus. If we make this a regular habit, it can have serious effects on our personal and professional lives.
The reduction of screen time is important and needs to be taken seriously. It has serious implications for our health and overall well-being in the long run. If we refuse to change our ways, it may cost us dearly. While we may need digital platforms for work, communication, and recreation — let’s try hard to not become dependent on them.
Remember, even before the digital boom and revolution, a far simpler world existed. Although slow, it worked just fine. There is no turning back now as digital technology is here to stay. It will continue to evolve and advance and take us with it. The key is to be aware of its shortcomings and ill effects on our health and well-being. So, let us use digital media and tools where absolutely necessary and strike a balance between the real world and the digital world.
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