Is it time to disconnect?

I recently met a two-year-old who wouldn’t respond to “Hello!” but immediately responds to “Let’s take a selfie!”. I was horrified at this. It made me ponder on technology addiction and its long-term effects.

It is no secret that technology or internet addiction can result in reduced attention spans. In a recent book, Professor Rosen of California State University, Dominguez Hills conducted a study and found that high school students could only focus for an average of three minutes continuously. The cause behind this reduced ability to focus she found to be technology especially multitasking with digital devices. Additionally, technology addiction can also affect basic socializing in young kids. According to researchers at Stanford, girls between the ages of 8-12 years old who spend long hours online have stunted social and emotional development along with low self-esteem. This problem can easily be tackled by encouraging kids and adults alike to have more face to face conversations and consume media in moderation.

Gaming addiction is another major cause of concern as made apparent by the NHS recently announcing that they will diagnose gaming addiction as well as offer treatment to those suffering from it. Gaming addiction not only negatively affects school performance as it causes sleep deprivation but also it is believed to result in aggressive tendencies.

Along with the previously discussed issues, social media comes with its own plethora of problems. FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”) is caused when people start comparing their backstage scenes to other’s highlight reels that are posted on social media platforms. This only results in unnecessary anguish over irrelevant aspects of life. It took me time to realize this but it’s important to recognise that social media doesn’t paint an accurate picture of people’s lives. Moreover, when did the focus become getting the perfect picture instead of enjoying the moment to the fullest? Imagine meeting your idol and instead of taking a moment to talk to them your first priority is getting a picture to prove it happened. In all honesty, I love taking pictures and sharing them on social media, but it is important to prioritise real-life interactions and memories over the picture-perfect Instagram post.

So, I am challenging myself and you to go offline this weekend and instead try something entirely new. Take this time to create rather than consume along with spending some time alone with your thoughts. Alternatively, take this time to reach out to a friend and connect face to face. It will be a welcome and refreshing break from technology.

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