“All day in front of the screen”
Phrases like “Put down your cell phone” or “Do something with your friends” has probably been heard by everyone from their own parents. Statements like “You’re in front of the screen all day” or “Do something decent” are not only unfair, they also lack a whole lot of context. Here are a few arguments in case you have to have this discussion for the millionth time soon. Screen time is a sore subject that we all hate to face. In principle, we are all aware that we are extremely often in front of a screen and that we are now dependent on our devices in many ways. This does not mean that we are all sick or even addicted, but that we can no longer shape parts of our lives without a piece of digital.
For example, what would students have done during the pandemic if there had been no online classes? Banks are another example: Around 97% of all 16 to 49 year olds use online banking. It’s super convenient, but what if your phone gets lost or broken? Then you first need a new device and have to request new documents for the setup from the bank. Actually, the discussion starts much earlier: Let’s be honest, who still uses a real alarm clock on the bedside table these days? Whether it’s an alarm clock, school or money transfer – our society depends on digital services.
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Average 3.5 hours per day
But screen time is not the same as screen time. In 2022, all 12 to 19 year olds spent an average of 204 minutes a day on the internet, i.e. almost three and a half hours. As already indicated, we need our digital end devices for many purposes in everyday life. And of course, school from the home office is not to be equated with the Netflix evening in our free time. So that doesn’t automatically mean that we all binge-watch for three and a half hours a day, but things like homework, emails or reading can also count.
Don’t always assume the worst
Statistics mostly either cover a single aspect of screen time or count it as a whole. In addition, there are always individual differences. So the lines blur quickly when it comes to screen time. Then there is the aspect of multitasking: Of course, you can also do your homework and have music playing in the background without any problems – does that count as work or leisure time or both? All of this is actually something to consider, but it’s more complicated than it might sound at first. It can be said that it is difficult to separate the different types of screen time. The fact is, just noticing that someone is looking at their cell phone or sitting at their laptop is not enough for a smart-ass sentence like: “Go out into the fresh air again” or “Your eyes will still be square”. If you’re really interested in what you’re doing in front of the screen, you should do some research and not just stupidly assume a stereotype.
If you’re curious now, here are five tips if you want to reduce your screen time:
Disable the blue tick / read receipt in Messenger
The automatically turned on read receipt puts pressure on you to reply to the message as soon as it’s read. Otherwise, I’m left wondering what the person across the street might be thinking if I’ve seen a message but haven’t responded.
Turn off push notifications
If you don’t get any notifications, you only look at your cell phone when you need it. While this can backfire and result in warning states, it can also help with shutdown. Again, the Messenger example: You only answer when you have the time and inclination, and not when you are prompted to do so by the notification.
If you know exactly which apps are annoying you, but you still spend more time on them than you actually want, make short work of them and delete them.
Establish spatial rules
In the evening before falling asleep just checking something again or in the morning after waking up to see what happened during bedtime – most of you are probably familiar with that. Taking your cell phone to bed creates a temptation to waste even more time.
Try black and white mode
Warning: Black mode is not meant. The black and white mode is as retro as it sounds. Social media and games in particular make use of the color world and often cause overstimulation among users. You can counteract that, although it’s definitely not that much fun anymore.
Either way: Nobody should be ashamed of their own screen time! At the end of the day, smartphones make life a lot easier for all of us.