Screen addiction is a trending topic online and rightfully so as the number of mobile phones in the World have exceeded the number of toilets. The growing quest for more information as well as staying connected via instant communication is at an all time high and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. There are studies that are being done, mostly in children, to demonstrate that they’re getting too much “screen time” and need to be rationed in their exposure to phones, tablet devices, televisions and handheld dvd players. However, the interesting fact about this new and “alarming” screen addiction is that in today’s society, the children that have access to smartphones and tablets that have apps are more focused, educated and more apt to engage socially with others regarding their findings.
There can be arguments on both sides of the fence with regard to what screen addiction really is and here are a few scenarios to assist you in making your on call:
Connecting with others via sms messages, instant chat apps and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter- You may be “connecting” and “conversing” through this means of communication, but are you also isolating yourself from face to face contact and engagement with others around you in your personal life such as friends and family members?
When you’re in a meeting, is your phone turned on or turned off? Do you have it “respectively set” to vibrate instead of ring so it will buzz across the table and still have the same impact of disruption as if it were turned on full throttle with the most annoying ringtone in the World?
Some have even likened the mobile phone as the replacement for a cigarette in regard to something to do with your hands. Really? That’s something to talk about for sure as we know cigarettes are bad for our health, but are our mobile phones bad for our health as well? Some doctors in the U.S. have even started “diagnosing” this addiction so apparently it is and of course there will be some “medication remedies” that will be designed by the big drug manufacturers in the coming months and years for this specific “mental health issue”.
The average person spends approximately 7.5 hours looking at a screen of some type every day. Mobile phones, tablet devices, computer screens and televisions. So is this an example of “screen addiction”?
Let’s take a look at what addiction is actually: Addiction- compulsive physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be physically, psychologically, or socially harmful *Source Merriam-Webster.com. I wonder if they’ll be adding “mobile device” or “smartphone” or “tablet device” to amend this definition soon.
So when the big picture comes into focus, what will this new “screen addiction” really about? Money! Control! Power!
About 15 years ago I was somewhere, I honestly can’t remember where it was, but there was some graffiti art of a row of people and they were all looking down. Look around today when you’re at the bus stop, the train station, the library or in your office building- over 50% of the people will probably be looking down. People use devices to connect and to communicate. Do some do it to excess? More than likely! Would I classify this as an “alarming new mental health issue”? CERTAINLY NOT! I’m not a trained psychologist and have no formal certification on anything dealing with the psychology or sociology fields, but what I do know is people. I’m guilty myself of “screen addiction” if a group of professionals deems the term a reality as I work online and I stay on the road and in meetings 5 and 6 days a week approximately 10 to 12 hours per day.
Searching for more information regarding this has opened up a lot for debate and discussion on this issue. I would prefer the term to be irresponsible over screen addiction. After all, how many responsible people would choose a “screen” over their own loved ones and engaging in true social interaction? Notice I used the phrase “responsible people”.
Let me know your thoughts on this topic as I’ve read a lot about it from the U.S. but not a lot here in Australia regarding it.
Written by James Wester and Joe Honan-