Social media is skyrocketing screen time – The Daily Free Press


“You averaged 10 hours and 16 minutes of screen time per day last week,” reads my iPhone’s Screen Time feature. My stomach is dropping – it’s almost half of my day. How did it happen? Digging a little deeper, the answer becomes obvious: social media.

Growing up alongside the social media boom has affected young people today much more than other generations. You’ve probably seen your parents scrambling to find their phone while yours is stuck to your hand. It is simply not the first priority of older generations.

Personally, my entry into social media began in fourth grade, when – with my mother’s permission – I created a Facebook account. Everything changed from that moment on. That same year I got my first phone, which was probably no coincidence. The promising field of social media was too exciting to resist.

Most users abuse these platforms as a form of escapism. Long before social media, books filled that same void as a coping mechanism. However, they have proven to be a very productive way to do this. These days, retired bookworms would be embarrassed to show you how much time they spend online each day.

After Facebook came Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, along with many others. If you spend two hours on each app, skyrocketing screen times start to make a lot of sense. Our generation feels compelled to join these spaces because our society relies on them as the primary mode of social interaction.

Smaran Ramidi / DFP Staff

What does this mean for the future?

The technologically dependent characters of the 2008 film WALL-E may come to reflect reality rather than remain the comedic dramatizations they once were. Like these personas, social media users can become addicted to technology rather than engaging with the outside world. Social media will only alienate us from real life if its prevalence does not decrease.

Surprisingly, even toddlers have fallen victim to this phenomenon. Screen time has become a big part of their lives as well as ours. According to the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, from 1997 to 2014, screen time for children under two rose from 1.32 to 3.05 hours per day. Commonly referred to as “iPad babies,” these little ones reveal the seriousness of this change in our population.

In the same vein, children are getting phones at younger and younger ages. “But mom! Everyone in my class has one,” the third-grader says. Overall, they spend less time having real-world experiences like playing outside with friends, participating in activities stimulating and enjoying the family.The more screen time, the higher the distortion of traditional childhood.

Some would argue that social media can help all ages feel accepted to some extent. While safe spaces online can be comforting, it’s nothing compared to those found beyond the screen. Moreover, what may seem safe may be quite the opposite. Once invested, it can be much more complicated to detect the toxicity present in the mediums that we consider safe.

This may sound hypocritical on my part – as an avid social media participant myself – but it’s the irony of our current climate. A majority of active users want nothing more than to detach from their devices.

Unfortunately, apps now serve as society’s most vicious crutch. At the same time, those who don’t use them are seen as outcasts, distrustful and antisocial.

In the 90s, our parents used their phones only to make calls. Even once smartphones made their revolutionary appearance, the previous generation still used their devices mainly for convenience.

Although they still have their Facebook and of course Candy Crush Saga, in my experience their views rarely resemble ours. My own mother considers posting on her Facebook more of a chore than anything else.

Meanwhile, my peers have created entire inexplicable realities for those outside of these platforms. It is a blatant demonstration of our detachment from reality.

This conversation may seem trivial after being repeated over and over again by our condescending parents, but we need to take it into our own hands. Opening up the discussion to those directly affected could produce unprecedented results.

Negativity and judgment aside, experimenting with slowly reducing your screen time can be a step in the right direction. Friends can encourage each other and create a positive environment to boost progress.

During this journey, notice the changes in yourself. Tapping into your unique experience could open doors you never knew existed.

Screen times have skyrocketed, but we have the opportunity to take matters into our own hands. The detrimental effects of social media leading to longer screen times cannot be ignored solely because they are being preached by an older generation that has not grown up in the digital age. To let this deter us from realizing the truth is undoubtedly counterproductive.

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