Screen Time vs. Me Time
While clicking through TED Talks on YouTube, I ran across this brief talk by Adam Alter on the amount of time we spend engaging with technology and some of the long-term effects it may have on us individually as well as its impact on society.
Working with my clients, more and more I find that they are growing concerned about the amount of time they spend engaging with technology. This includes engaging with social media, surfing the internet, messaging on their cell phones, and playing video games. They also quite concerned over the amount of time their children are spending staring at screens as well.
Doing some Googling, I found that mental health professionals are now discussing a disorder called Electronic Screen Syndrome. While the syndrome has yet to be formally recognized by the American Psychology Association, it does appear that researchers are giving it serious consideration.
One thing I notice when I discuss this with my clients or even when I consider my own need to try and stay connected, is that a recurring rationale for our prolonged engagement with technology is the feeling that we do not want to miss out.
Whether obsessively checking the news or our Facebook feed, many of us maintain the feeling that if we take some time away from our screens, we may miss something important. When I think through this rationally—in my own personal experience—this has never been the case!
I have never missed out on some great or enlightening experience and yet I have felt anxious about it.
One of the greatest things we can do for ourselves is take an active role in caring for ourselves. Part of that self-care is trying to identify harmful habits and patterns we find ourselves engaging in that negatively impact our lives.
While I cannot say for certain that the amount of time we spend engaging with technology is hurting us more than it is helping us, I am a firm believer that unplugging from time to time has its benefits.
In fact, just going outside for a walk can improve our moods and decrease depression.