by Haley Kastler
Do you often find yourself feeling anxious if you don’t have your phone? Does losing your phone create hysteria and frantic searching throughout your house? If this is true, you might have a screen addiction. Screen addiction is just as it seems, an obsession with an electronic device, perhaps a phone, tablet, or laptop. This problem is affecting the development of children when they start young with these devices. What about teens? According to an article by Dr. Nicholas Kadaras called “Plugged-in and tuned-out: The dangers of teenage virtual addiction,” there have been cases of violence and even the extreme of murder all relating back to this problem.
It’s clear that screen addiction is a current and real phenomenon. We’re often getting distracted by the use of smartphones and other electronic devices. This is affecting the attention span of humans. In fact, according to a survey done by Microsoft about Canadian media consumption, the average attention span of a human in 2000 was 12 seconds. Fifteen years later with the rise of technology, the attention span had dropped to a mere 8.25 seconds. This is lower than the attention span of a goldfish, at nine seconds. Pop-up advertisements, flashy websites, and quickly-cut shows are affecting our focus. Therefore, it necessary to take steps to protect us from having no interaction lasting more than five seconds.
With the use of our beloved technology, we have access to so much information that we must have a solution, and there are multiple. It’s quite simple, when you’re in school, Apple users can put their phones on Do Not Disturb and otherwise, turn off notifications. It’s a simple fix to a huge problem. The second and more important piece to this is to keep busy. If you find yourself bored, you’re likely to take out your phone and spend hours scrolling and watching just because of that one moment. Staying active and finding things to do like work out, take a walk, read a book, start a craft project, or something that you’re passionate about can keep you away from your phone.
This helps tremendously for a few reasons. When you turn off notifications, you’re no longer distracted by the feeling of a buzz or a ding sound. According to a Harvard Business Review article by Nicole Torres, just knowing there was a notification can create lingering thoughts of what that notification could mean, keeping you distracted. Also, keeping busy can curb boredom and keep you from using your phone, allowing you to be more productive instead. According to an article by Rachel Ehmke of Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children with mental health issues and learning disorders, we are losing important human interactions to learn about body language and signals by being on our phones, so therefore, by staying off of them we are getting more interaction and learning those cues.
There could only be a few problems with this solution to screen addiction. Since a majority of us are already addicted to our screens, a major issue would be withdrawal symptoms. This includes moodiness, anger, and rarely violence. Secondly, you as the addicted user have to take the initiative and disconnect yourself from the device. I’m not asking your parents to ground you and take your device because that isn’t truly solving the problem. The way to fix this, is to want to fix it yourself.