The internet is one of the world’s greatest inventions. From accessing information, communicating with people, monetary transactions from a personal scale to a global and political scale, an active professional and academic life, and of course, as a means of entertainment. It has also allowed us to create devices and gadgets such as laptops and phones which have applications that help us regulate our life.
The pandemic has made the use of our smartphones even more prominent. With people and children not able to go to work/school, these gadgets allowed them to continue their routine. With social distancing offline, it was the internet that allowed us to remain emotionally connected. We were able to monitor, understand and stay informed about the disease and the protocols we had to follow.
Despite these benefits, we often hear people expressing concern about how the internet is making people addicted to their screens while life is happening around them. In 2021, 4.9 billion people (two thirds of the world’s population) were connected by the internet. India alone has 658 million internet users (February 2022). In 2019, around 54% of the Indian internet user base was between 20 and 39 years old. Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp are the most popular social media networks in the world (2022) and Google.com is the most popular website worldwide with 45.41 billion total monthly visits (2021).
These numbers are just examples of how screens have infiltrated our lives and led to reduced physical interaction, internet addiction disorder etc. Now, we can’t go back to the pre-screen era because our lives are so dependent on it. However, there can be better ways to optimize our screen time so that we can reap its benefits, stay in control and not be controlled by our screens.
1. Track your time: The use of screens should be as and when required. Cutting out technology completely isn’t the solution but knowing the limits of each medium of technology and its purpose is important.
2. Tech free zones: There can be certain hours in a day when we are not hooked on to the screen. We should take some time out and spend it with family, friends and ourselves where we can focus entirely on our human connections rather than staying glued to the screen. This also applies to the bedroom where we need to focus more on sleep than writing that important email or scrolling through social media apps.
3. Have more face to face interaction: The pandemic restricted our outside movement and made it difficult to meet colleagues, friends and family. But, as things are now back to normal, we can have more face to face meetings and interactions rather than depending on our screens all the time.
4. Create time for hobbies: One way to detach oneself temporarily from using gadgets is to come up with something interesting and creative. It could be 30 minutes of your day on things you wanted to do or learn but never found time for.
5. Install apps that are useful: There are dedicated apps to promote health, wellbeing, and provide information. These apps can make a difference in your life if you use them to your advantage.
Technology has brought about a revolution for mankind. But, the human mind is capable of doing many things and these inventions have been designed for our benefit. As Frances Willard said, “Temperance is moderation in the things that are good and total abstinence from the things that are foul.”