In 2014, technology is everywhere. From the phone alarm clock that wakes us up to the social media we communicate with and the computers we use at work, technology is everywhere in our lives. Although figures vary, studies have shown that teenagers spend as much as 6 hours a day using digital devices. This figure is only set to increase in the next few years with new technologies like Google Glass and the Samsung Gear Watch bringing a digital aspect to yet more areas of our lives. But is this so bad? And, if so, what can we do about it?
Technology addiction is a very recent phenomenon, triggered largely by the invention of the smartphone. Smartphones are now owned by 72% of people in the UK, making them intrinsic to our digital lives. They allow us to use the multitude of social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook simultaneously and throughout our working day. On top of this, it is now easy to watch TV and movies on our mobiles as well as use the internet wherever we are.
The large ownership of smartphones by young people – over 80% in the US – makes this a particularly vulnerable group of society. Recent Government research has highlighted the dangers of children and teenagers overusing technology. In its August 2013 report on healthy behaviour, it stated that:
“Increased screen time and exposure to media (such as bedroom TVs) is consistently associated with reduced feelings of social acceptance, and increased feelings of loneliness, conduct problems and aggression.”
Another growing problem with technology is the ease of multi-tasking with devices, which places a great strain on our brains. For example, listening to music whilst working on a computer or texting a friend at the same time as watching TV puts the brain under far greater pressure than if we did the same activities consecutively. In addition, there is growing fear over the long-term impacts of large screen time with scientists highlighting the potential damage to eyesight due to the harsh brightness of many device screens.
It is with these issues in mind, that Scope has launched the Digital Detox campaign. The idea is to challenge members of the public to ‘go dark’ and stop using all digital devices for 48 hours on the weekend of March 1st – 2nd whilst raising money for charity. Although growing in popularity, this is just one part of a spreading campaign for both adults and children to spend less time online and in front of screens. Parents can now take classes on how to make themselves and their children spend less time using technology, and plans can be found across the internet for what to do when on a “digital detox”.
From this it is clear that our addiction to technology is a growing problem, and we should all try to reduce the time we spend using our devices. My advice? Don’t go on a “digital detox” but do try to spend one night a week away from your online self – you’ll be surprised with the benefits.