Increase in screen time, social media use fuels debate over healthy balance

March 14, 2019

The ubiquity of personal smartphones raises growing concerns, specifically amongst young people. According to a Common Sense Media (CSM) study, since 2011, the amount of time spent on cell phones has increased dramatically. For example, the study found that on average, 13 to 18 year olds spend up to nine hours a day on their phones. Paired with the prominence of cellphones, social media has also gained criticism.

Concerns continue to rise regarding how reliable and how much good social media and technology truly do for people. According to another CSM study, parents are becoming more worried about mobile and interactive devices, especially the time their children spend on them and the content of screen media.

Although social media provides social networking and a giant range of information, which can aid in long distance relationships due to its geographic reach, a study in Sage Journals looked into the presence of cell phones in face-to-face conversations. In the study, certain participants had a phone in their hand or on the table and others had no cell phone in proximity of the conversation. Those with the phone in their hand or on the table reported feeling less empathetic than those who did not have a phone while conversing. The constant buzzing and alerts on cell phones have the possibility to distract from the conversation and divert attention away from experiences in the moment.

The truth is that people, especially children and teens, engage with such devices and social media frequently, but the debate over social media continues with concerns over how or when to make mindful decisions regarding these devices.

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