Waiting rooms are an interesting microcosm of the world. Last week when I was checking for my next appointment I noticed that everyone was using technology. Everyone. There are 10 counselors in our office and every single person in the waiting room was “plugged in” to a hand held screen. Since studying behavior is kind of my thing, I started tracking. My week long research startled me. The readers of magazines/books, and the players of blocks/puzzles are now in the minority. The shift in technology has officially hit our office in a BIG way.
I like technology, obviously. Our office has a website. I call, text, email, blog, research, Facebook, and have Pinterest boards for inspirational quotes and (mostly) healthy recipes. Our office has a website. But I am wondering about the cost of screen time to each of us, and to our families. So I did some more research. Yes, it was online.
The American Psychology Association website search indicates that when the amount of screen time goes up: attention, sleep, physical activity, social interaction, and grades go down. Although video games have been linked to improved reaction time in children, and improved surgical skills in surgeons, there is compelling evidence that increased aggression and obesity are also associated with increased video and television usage.
Adult cell phone use is steadily increasing. Most of us grownups (72%) use our cell phones for texting, but we tend to use our phones for voice conversations more than texting. Teens exceed our texting on a 5:1 ratio according to the Pew Internet Research Center. Younger cell phone users are averaging one and a half hours of texting per day, and one half hour using their cell phones to make voice calls. This data does not include the use of cell phones for Internet surfing or account for the multi-tasking media use which is commonplace among teens. It is not unusual, for example, to see teens huddled on the couch watching a movie, playing a game on their individual cell phones, and texting other people.
The last week of April (April 28-May 4) has been designated Screen Free Week by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. It may be radical, but I am going to introduce the idea to my family, my clients, and the office waiting room. Technology may have its place, but it is not meant to replace peaceful silence, reflection, talking, listening . . .Will you take the challenge?
I promise to post ideas and inspiration to lighten up your screen use!