You are reading this on some sort of screen. It may be on your laptop or a tablet or even on your phone. Hopefully, you don’t consider it to be wasted time. You do lots of other things on those screens as well: your email, social media, and other forms of staying connected as well as being entertained and informed. All of that screen time adds up – some estimates have it over five and a half hours each day. That doesn’t include the four and a quarter hours we spend with traditional TV either.
In a July 2015 study by YouGov and The Huffington Post, 54% of US internet users said they spent too much time using digital devices, including computers, mobile phones, TVs and video game consoles. Responses were even between males and females. However, feelings of too much screen time correlated with age. While respondents from every age group were more likely to agree that they spent too much time with screens, younger consumers were far more likely to say so compared with their older counterparts.
I don’t share their guilt. After all, the tools we use for all of this communication and entertainment are just more efficient ways to engage in activities which we’ve been doing all along. If anything, I find them too efficient. We all have access to far more information and to many more entertainment options than ever before. What were we all doing before these screens (and I realize that if you’re under 25 you probably don’t have any memories of a world without them) to keep in touch? Phone calls, I know, but they were inefficient. How many friends could you reach out and touch in a day? Snail mail? Between the time it took to compose, write, and deliver a letter to a friend or a group of them, a week could have gone by.
I’m not guilty about the hours I spend with my screens. Too much time? Not at all. I celebrate them because they make me smarter, more informed, and better connected. I might have been anyway but not as efficiently or with such wide range. You?