The 2010s are ending in a month and a half and the 2020s will begin. The theme of the past decade can be described as the rise of social media and smartphones. For those born from 1995-2001, we have completed a majority of our schooling in this past decade and are either finished with it or nearing the end. This next decade is going to be the years that we enter “the real world.” We are all starting our independent journey into the rest of our adult lives. But nearly one thing connects us all, in fact literally, which are smartphones and social media. We will be the first generation to be able to be up to date with what everyone else in our cohort is doing with our lives. This decade we are about to leave has sculpted our lives unlike any other before it. Technology has advanced exponentially in the past 20 years and this has been a blessing and a curse. With technology advancing so fast, it leaves us with the question of what are going to be the long term effects of this advancement? What effects will excessive smartphone usage have on us long term?
As a generation, we must be mindful of our use of technology and the subconscious effects that it has on us. Look around you in any given public area, and count just how many people are looking at their phones or laptops, or even both, it tends to be a majority of people. That said, “ over 1.8 billion people own smartphones and use their devices on a daily basis. Some studies estimate that an average person checks their screen 150 times a day”(Williams 1). Nobody thinks they check their smartphones 150 times a day, but in reality, we do. Open up your phone, go into settings, and find screen activity. I almost guarantee you that you will be shocked by the hours you put into screen time a day. What most people don’t realize is how much screen time they log per day, per week and how fast it adds up. People also don’t realize just how much of an addiction smartphone usage is. For example, to my surprise, last week I averaged about 4 hours and 15 minutes of screen times a day. That’s actually a crazy amount of time to be looking at my phone each day. To think about what I could be accomplishing with all that time. To more of my dismay, I had a total of around 30 hours of screen time for the week. That is more than a full day of my week staring at my screen. Meaning I had only a 6 day week of doing literally anything else besides looking at my phone. To average it out over the month, I had 3 hours and 40 minutes of screen time a day, with an average of 28 hours and 43 minutes of screen time a month. The worst part of calculating that times is its comprehend that I actually put that much time into looking at my phone because it simply does not feel like I use my phone that much. However, that does account for GPS being open in a car and other similar apps.
With all this screen time we log and the effortless access to social media and each other’s lives. This leads us to compare our lives with everyone else’s out there. We open our phones, open up Instagram and watch our family and friends highlights. But that’s exactly what we have to remember, that social media is comprised of posts that show only the good times, only the accomplishments, only the joy, and only the results. What is not shown are the bad days, the heartbreak, and the process of getting there. We see results everywhere and that leads us to expect the results of our own. If we only focus on that result and reaching that result, then we will be constantly disappointed with our failure to achieve the result that we see online. The process is the most important part because it’s the only reason for the result. I know that may seem obvious but look at it like this. We all have big goals, dreams, results we expect ourselves to achieve. If we shoot only for that result, failure is imminent most of the time. But by breaking that goal down into smaller goals and shifting your focus off the result and onto the process of making those small steps will give you the results you desire naturally. If you want to hike a mountain but constantly stair up at the summit, it will always seem far away. But instead, focus on just as far as you can see up the trail. Reach that point and rest. Enjoy each step, relish in the feeling of getting up that hill. You have the summit in mind but you focus on what is right in front of you. Then when you reach the summit, it’s all the more satisfying because you enjoyed the process just as much as the result. What I mean by all this is that we have to be mindful of the comparative culture and focus less on the results of your neighbor because they could be climbing a completely different mountain then you are. This means taking social media less seriously and focusing on yourself more.
Overall as a generation, we have to be mindful of how seductive technology and social media can be. We must be mindful of our screen time, the psychological effects of social media, and how we use technology because it’s only going to get more and more advanced and easier to use. I predict the next decade will be the rise of mainstream virtual reality, and that’s great because creativity is beautiful and advancement is inevitable. But this reality comes first, the one away from the screens and the internet. As a generation going headstrong into the future, we have to pay attention to this technological power we possess, because we simply do not know what negative ramifications screen time and excessive technology use has in a thirty-plus year time frame.
Williams, Amy. “How Do Smartphones Affect Childhood Psychology?” Psych Central, 8 Oct. 2018, https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-do-smartphones-affect-childhood-psychology/.