As business professionals and consumers, the internet is integrated heavily into our lives, but just HOW MUCH time are we spending on these platforms every day?
According to DataReportal, “the latest numbers suggest that the world will likely spend more than 12½ trillion hours online in 2022 alone”. To put this into perspective, that’s equivalent to about 1 million years looking at a screen!
On average, Americans between the ages of 16 and 64 spend about 7 hours and 5 minutes using the internet across varying devices every day. This is just slightly more than the worldwide average of 6 hours and 58 minutes. Of this time, 35.2% is spent on just social media!
A 2018 study done by the National Library of Medicine studied how screen time affected children 2-17 years old in the United States. Interestingly, the study showed that an hour or less of screen time had no effect on the mental well-being of the participants. However, after 1 hour of screen time “increasing screen time was generally linked to progressively lower psychological well-being.” Participants that had very high screen times, closer to the national average of 7 hours, carried twice the risk of having lower well-being than users who spent less time on screens.
Additionally, Frontiers in Human Dynamics noted in a 2020 study that analyzed screen time usage and its effects over the pandemic lockdown. They found that “increased screen time replaces healthy behaviors and habits like physical activity and sleep routine, and leads to potentially harmful effects such as reduced sleep or day-night reversal, headaches, neck pain, myopia, digital eye syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance due to increase in sedentary time among adults”.
With all this time looking at screens and absorbing massive amounts of information, it’s important to reflect on how this can affect our mental health. Utilizing screens is an essential part of our lives, especially as PR professionals, so avoiding it entirely is pretty much impossible. What is important though is monitoring how much time you are spending on screens. The Frontiers in Human Dynamics Study recommends the following 7 tips to battle screen fatigue and creating healthy digital habits:
1. Resort to audio calls to beat screen fatigue as a result of multiple video calls.
2. Use the voice note option on various social media platforms to reduce the screen stare time while typing a message.
3. Actively giving up phone phubbing (the act of snubbing someone you’re talking with in person in favor of your phone) and connecting with people around.
4. Proactively be in touch with friends and relatives.
5. Making small talk [and] checking on people about their days and ditching the digital devices once in a while can make for a good break and enhance social connections.
6. Use of mobile applications for promoting digital wellbeing. Mobile health apps are becoming increasingly popular to stay socially connected as well as aid mental wellbeing.
7. Healthy and discreet boundaries between the personal and professional temporal spaces are helpful.
Being aware of our own habits and holding ourselves accountable for the time we spend looking at screens, and implementing practices that reduce this time is critical to promoting our own psychological and physical wellbeing.
For more information regarding the damaging effects of social media, we recommend visiting Social Media Victims Law Court at socialmediavictims.org. SMVLC is solely focused on helping teens and parents of teens whose mental health is affected by social media. As a firm, they work “to hold social media companies legally accountable for the harm they inflict on vulnerable users”. While we can take action ourselves to ensure our mental health is not harmed by social media, it is also important to hold social media platforms accountable for recognizing the importance of consumer safety.
By: Emily Sammons
Sammis|Ochoa is San Antonio’s fastest-growing public relations and digital marketing agency. It is the 2020 recipient of the TinyAward for Happiest Employees in Public Relations. It also ranks as one of San Antonio’s best PR firms by Design Rush. The firm is headquartered in San Antonio and serves clients in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 210.390.4284 to amp up your PR game!