With ongoing Covid-19 lockdowns, people, especially the younger generation, are glued to their electronic devices 24/7.
Why are we addicted to our electronic devices that emit blue light, knowing very well that overexposure to blue light can damage our eyes? How can we reduce time spent on our devices, when everyone else is doing it?
Our reliance on social media during the lockdowns have been our saving grace to keep in touch safely (another novel way of social distancing). Mainstream social medial platforms like Facebook have reported usage of their Messenger group video calls have shot up by 70 percent, WhatsApp usage has increased by nearly 40 percent and IG (Instagram) Live views have doubled.
“Reaching for our phones is a common coping mechanism for the unknown,” says Doreen Dodgen-Magee, who is a psychologist based in Oregon, U.S.A. Doreen has authored the book “Deviced!: Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World” which has received many good reviews and can be found on Amazon. “We stay connected to our screens and the news that they provide, hoping that it will help us feel less anxious.”
An acquaintance deleted his Instagram account just a few weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic started in the U.S., as he was tired of just scrolling through it rather absentmindlessly while waiting for the train, waiting in queue at the bank, or waiting for water to boil to make a cup of coffee. After a few days, he realized his usage of his mobile had lessened considerably, leaving him with a sense of being set free from his unconsciously growing addiction to his mobile.
His feeling of euphoria did not last long when local authorities implemented a lockdown in his district. He suddenly felt cut off from the rest of the world, and needed to see and know how the rest of his friends and working colleagues affected by the lockdown were coping.
A sense of anxiety set in and this chap quickly re-installed IG again on his mobile. This time around, his reasoning was the app actually served a purpose, as he felt he could actually keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues quarantined in their own worlds, without taking a step out of his front door. He even thanked technology for bonding them together in a new norm.
Surprisingly his happiness was short lived again. After a while of keeping in touch with his circle on IG, knowing what they did, ate and drank daily, and constantly ingesting the latest never-ending updates on Covid-19, where to buy facial masks and hand sanitizer, the feelings of anxiety returned, this time with fear and depression added on. He also Let’s be honest, this is the impact of a never-ending flow of negative information upon you.
For Dodgen-Magee, this is seen as problematic, because anxiety we feel from “being constantly plugged in counteracts any positive impact of being informed”.
The thing is, it is never easy to detach yourself from your electronic devices, especially when our only contact with the outside world is through them now. So, is there a solution to lower our dependency on digital media?
“Everyone is worried about screen time [right now]. Every Sunday [when Apple releases its screen time report], I see a whole load of tweets and comments from people on social media saying how appalled they are that they’re spending 12 hours a day on a screen,” says Tanya Goodin, UK-based founder of Time To Log Off, the digital detox movement, who has authored two books, “Off” and “Stop Staring at Screens”, both of which can be found on Amazon as well. “Obviously, the current situation is very different, but I still think a lot of the same principles apply.”
Goodin’s suggestion to reduce digital dependency is to set a firm boundary for your screen time. If it is for a Zoom meeting or online cookery classes or workouts, it would be considered helpful.
However, “If we’re doing it because we’re bored or anxious, it’s not helpful,” says Goodin. As for constantly getting news updates, she says, “People are saying they want that reassurance, but it’s becoming a real problem and increasing anxiety.”
Set time limits
Try to schedule with fixed screen times in the mornings and in the evenings. Staying home, we tend to get carried away with our screen times, so we have to limit ourselves.
“When you no longer have a commute, you no longer have the bookends to your days. We have to create those.” Says Goodin. She also suggests the usage of different devices for different digital activities, “Use your laptop as your work device and your phone as your play device. So, you put one device away when you’re on the other.”
Quality instead of Quantity
Instead of having binge sessions scrolling through everything that comes on your favorite social medial platforms, psychologist Dodgen-Magee suggests streamlining content which will be meaningful or of help to you.
Luckily for my acquaintance chap, he decided to take these positive steps to a digital detox to lessen his anxiety fear and depression stemming from his addition to his beloved social media platforms.
I am very happy to report that that he now much less dependent on his electronic media and social platforms, and has taken up a healthier new interest in the form of landscaping his garden….. with useful tips gleaned from YouTube.
22nd May 2020 15:50
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