The Phone Experiment – Pt 1

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Someone, I know recently raised the question, via Instagram Stories: Should people over 40 be spending large amounts of time using social media?

Whilst I don’t believe that social media is only for the young, in fact, it’s the young who are most at risk from the potential harm social media can inflict from addiction to bullying, it did raise some interesting questions about how much I personally use social media, what am I using it for and just how much of my day do I spend online.

The question posed coincided with starting a new book: Irresistible by Adam Alter which dives into the addictive experiences of modern technology. It’s been well documented that excessive use of modern technology, particularly social media, can have a detrimental effect on our ability to relax, develop relationships, achieve meaningful goals and get a good nights sleep. It’s telling that Steve Jobs wouldn’t let his children use iPads. Did he know about the harmful addictive nature of modern technology?

I recently downloaded an app called Moment to my phone (yes I realise the irony of using an app to help me use apps less), which quietly monitors the amount of time I use my phone on a daily basis. I’ve always known I use my phone a lot, partly for work, partly for play and partly because it’s a device designed to draw me in and get me addicted, so I was interested to find out just how much time I spend staring at the small 5″ screen.

The average smartphone user, which is most of us, uses their phone a staggering 3 hours and 15 minutes a day! with less than 25% of that time is doing what a tradition phone was designed to do, communicate with people who are too far away to hear you shout. The way we interact with the world has changed forever. More people prefer YouTube to traditional TV with a mindbending 5billion video’s watched daily, we are more likely to communicate via What’s App or Facebook Messenger than actually hear someones voice and Instagram is the social media platform of choice for teenagers in the US.

What did Moment tell me about my phone usage? 5 hours and 2 minutes per day on average! I was shocked, appalled and amazed, probably in equal measure, at just how much of my day was whittled away by that tiny little device. 35 hours a week consumed by a variety of things designed to waste my time: 9.3 hours per week playing games (Star Wars Galaxy of Hero’s is particularly addictive), 4 hours watching Youtube videos, 3.5 hours on Instagram and 1.9 hours per week on Facebook. My phone was consuming almost 1/3 of my waking hours. Something had to change.

It’s time to conduct an experiment of sorts, which I’ll document on the pages of this website. I’m going to try and reduce my phone usage, a lot. I’m not going to set targets as to how much, another potential addiction of modern life, but I am going to take notes about how I feel, what I get up to and how making a conscious decision to use my phone less impacts my daily life.

I don’t know how this will go, but I’m willing to play the proverbial guinea pig to hopefully provide some insight that might prove useful to you. Stay tuned reader, things might just get pretty interesting.

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