Your Screen Test

The smart phone was a legitimate innovation and it’s changed our lives. Next came tablets and soon we’ll have virtual reality. What’s the impact?

In an article entitled Children Spend Six Hours or More a Day On Screens by Jane Wakefied, she introduces these findings:

The amount of time children spend glued to a screen has risen dramatically in the last 20 years, a new report suggests.

  •  Children aged five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995, according to market research firm Childwise.
  •  Teenaged boys spend the longest, with an average of eighthours.
  •  Eight-year-old girls spend the least: three-and-a-half hours, according tothe study.
  •  Screen time is made up of time spent watching TV, playing gamesconsoles, using a mobile, computer or tablet.

    While I can’t say this information surprised me, the numbers are concerning. Eight hours a day (the number of screen time for a teenage boy) works out to be a third of one’s life. And when you consider that the amount of screen time has more than doubled since 1995, what will that number be 20 years from today?

    There are certainly a lot of positives the internet and technology have brought us and it’s not my intention to say the current behavior of our young people (and grown ups for that matter) is all bad. But I’m curious: is it healthy to consume media, ads, information and messages for large percentages of our waking hours?

    I’m certain that one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and to one another is our full and complete attention: a gift that cannot be given in the presence of any type of screen. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this: is it possible to be fully present while watching YouTube? Do you check your phone immediately after you wake up in the morning? Are you Facebooking while you’re standing in line at Starbucks?

I advocate the importance of getting and keeping a sense of where we are, also known as being mindful; essentially the opposite of screen time.

Here is the definition of mindfulness from Psychology Today:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them—good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Because this is a financial blog, let’s bring it back to money. Does media affect the self-image and spending habits of adults? Can that influence be negative? I believe the answer is yes.

Will this increasing screen time have a similar affect on young people? How could it not?

In closing, work every day to get a sense of where you are and to be mindful. Screen time isn’t going away, so in next month’s edition we’ll get into how to talk with young people about managing it.

Leave a Reply