“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott
Technology is a wonderful thing. And it really has got many benefits that continue to add value to our lives.
That being said, there is no denying that the world has developed a somewhat ‘unhealthy’ relationship with it.
In a study conducted by the IPA, adults spend nearly 8 hours a day consuming media.
According to eMarketer, in 2017 adults in the UK spent an average of 1 hour and 59 minutes a day on their mobile phones alone. This number is expected to grow to an average time of 2 hours and 14 minutes a day by 2019.
Young people in particular spend more than a third of their leisure time on devices, according to analysis by the ONS.
These are big numbers. But I’m pretty sure we don’t need statistics to tell us that we are too attached to our technology.
In a recent poll, we asked you whether you could ‘unplug’ for one whole day. Interestingly, 61.1% of you said that you could, with 25.9% saying maybe and 13% saying you could not.
Here are some of the comments the poll received:
“I’d really struggle! I work from home so need the Internet, no net, no wages! Plus my husband works away, would hate not to be able to speak to him for a whole day. I could obviously do it, but would really dislike it”.
“I think it would be easier than we think and also very liberating.”
“When I do it's so liberating, love it, but it's very hard to switch off willingly.”
“It would be really hard to switch off.”
But are we spending too much time online?
If we now look at the numbers when it comes down to internet usage, according to a 2018 report published by WeAreSocial, the UK spends an average of 5 hours and 51 minutes a day online. Of that number, we spend 1 hour and 54 minutes a day on social media alone.
In a poll, we asked you what your preferred social media platform was. 54.6% of you said it was Facebook, with 21.5% preferring WhatsApp. 11.9% choose Instagram as their favourite and 9.4% choosing Twitter. Snapchat came bottom with only 2.6% of you selecting that as your preferred social media network.
Facebook still dominates the battle of the social media platforms, with almost 2.7 billion active users around the world at the start of 2018.
Unfortunately, mass consumption of social media can have negative effects on our mental health and well-being.
Here is a run-down of how social media can impact us:
- It’s addictive, and people can undergo a type of withdrawal and fear of ‘missing out’
- It can trigger more sadness and social isolation, as humans are social beings
- It causes us to compare our lives with others – this can be extremely unhealthy for our mental well-being as we are constantly making judgements of how our lives compare to our friends
- It can lead to jealousy and obsession
Of course, technology and social media is a brilliant tool for all of us. It allows us to connect to loved ones across the world. It is a great way to stay connected to what’s going on around us, as well as a great way to access information and support forums on many issues such as mental health, food and nutrition and so on. But it is important to know how much is ‘too much’ and how to switch off.
So how can we unplug and find space?
- Start your day right, and try committing to not turning on technology during your first waking hour
- Designate time to access social media platforms, but don’t allow it to steal your time
- Ensure you take time to power-down during the day. Do some gardening, go for a walk or pick up a book – choose something that works for you
- Remove distractions when you are taking your power-down time. Maybe go sit in a quiet room, or switch your phone off
- Take regular breaks from devices, particularly if you work on a computer all day
What are your thoughts on our technology and social media usage? Do you think we spend too much time on it? Let us know in the comments below.