By Caroline LaBorde, Minnesota Valley Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member
Have you looked at your screen time recently? This week mine was at the all-time high of 10.5 hours per day. Now I know what you’re thinking; “Caroline, how on earth is that possible, did you not do any work during this week?”. Fortunately for me I have a great explanation for this, and maybe you’ll even find you relate to this problem.
I use white noise to sleep, every night before bed I’ll find a 4-hour podcast (tmsoft coming through every time!) and put it on while I’m getting ready to go to sleep. While this podcast is on I’ll be brushing my teeth, packing my backpack for the morning but by the time I’m ready to actually sleep the podcast will have ended and I’m working in silence. I’m really great at time management, right? So after I realize how long it’s been I’ll find a new white noise episode and start that one when the lights are out. Now I know that most music platforms have an option to stop episodes after a half-hour, hour, three hours, but do I ever remember to turn that on? Nope! Thus my average screen time for the day gets skewed by around 6 hours a day, all because I wanted to listen to white noise in the evening. Despite what the numbers were telling me, I went and did the math just in case. As it turns out, I am actively on my phone for about 3 hours a day, with the other recorded screen time being music, podcasts or reading books. Even as I write this I’m adding to my screen time!
Having a computer, phone and tablet means that I have to be very careful with how much media I consume and how large the blocks of time I choose to give to technology are. It seems like such a little thing to have such a big impact, but without realizing it we often can go hours scrolling through apps built to suck us in and encourage interfacing with that little notification bell that always has you looking at your screen. My plan of attack is this: at the end of each week look at what apps were using the most screen time and set limits, or if they were being used for other purposes make sure that I am truly using them when appropriate, not just when I’m bored and have ‘nothing better to do’. By doing this I hope to have better control over the amount of technology I choose to interact with, and being more engaged with other things at the end of the day is the best goal to work towards. So, have you looked at your screen time recently?