Written by: Amanda Cottrell, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
What do you think of when you are asked to, “Do more things that make you forget to check your phone?” Do you think "not a chance I need my phone?" Or yeah, you are right; it is becoming a problem in my home. Do you stop for a minute and think I need to spend more time getting out and enjoying nature? Do you ever question whether you are becoming addicted to screens, or wonder if your children are becoming addicted to screens?
This idea is similar to the argument about screen time when I was a kid. However, I question if the amount of time someone spends in front of a screen really has anything to do with the problem's root.
We live in an age where we are constantly plugged in. We have access to the internet from almost anywhere on the planet. If we don’t know the answer to something, we can find it in two seconds on Google. We can talk to people anywhere on the planet at the click of a button. We are so plugged in and connected that we do not even realize how unconnected we truly are. Rates of depression and anxiety are up, and teen suicide is up. This upward trend started with the introduction of smartphones.
So even though we are more connected to the world, we are less connected to ourselves, our families and our kids. Kids are more connected on YouTube and Tiktok but less connected to their friends in real life and to who they are as a person. This is why it is so increasingly important for people and their kids to unplug and get mindful about what they are doing on their screens. I personally do not think the problem is directly linked to the amount of time people are spending in front of a screen, but question if it is linked to what they are spending their time doing in front of that screen.
When I was doing my Masters in Education Technology, we discussed how the Internet could be used to help people be creative and to solve problems. One specific example that still sticks in my head was people in a small village in Africa who used what they learned on their smartphones to clean up the river, learn how to farm and create a sustainable environment in an area that was previously a wasteland. The power of the technology we have at our fingertips is astronomical and has never been seen before in our history.
"Becoming more aware of what you are doing is the first step in mindfully changing your behavior"
Yet with this vast amount of information and powerful technology, very few people are utilizing it. The problem is and what this quote is really getting at, in my opinion, is the vast majority of the people on the internet use it as passive consumers, similar to how we used TV in the past. Not saying that there isn’t a value to having some time to just veg and watch a show or scroll Instagram or Facebook but what we really need to consider is how much time we are spending doing that compared to other activities of value, including other activities of value in that involve screens.
I challenge you to consider how often you use your smartphone or the internet to be content creators rather than passive consumers. There is a NetFlix documentary called “The Social Dilemma” that will really make you question the time you spend in front of your devices and who really has control over that time you are spending. Becoming more aware of what you are doing is the first step in mindfully changing your behavior.
My hope for the future is that people begin to use technology to become creators. When we use our creativity, we can solve problems in our lives and there is so much information out there that we need to learn how to navigate it so we can become content creators who solve critical problems.
So while I agree with the quote, we need to do more things that make us forget to check our phones. What if we changed it to “do more things that allow us to be empowered creators in our life story?”