Social media is touted as a way to keep us all connected- even when our family and friends are far away. But how effective is that goal? Ask yourself, how many times do you check your phone a day? Do you check it when out with friends, at a restaurant, at home eating dinner or watching tv? However many times you think you look at your phone, at least double it. Research indicates the average adult checks their phone 30 times a day, and the average millennial checks their phone more than 150 times daily.
I remember a group of 4 ninth grade girls, almost ten years ago, hanging out together in my basement. They were each on their cell phones, texting rather than talking to each other; I was disturbed by the sight. Fast forward, and we have come to accept AND expect this behavior.
Studies have shown that people have less interest in interacting with other people both in similar age groups, and in other age groups when they are on their phones. Because of social media, the world has changed into a society that is complacent sitting behind our computer screens.
Why should we care? People need social connection with other humans to thrive- it is part of what makes us uniquely human. Social connections, such as friendships, relationships with family members and closeness to community, are so closely related to well-being and personal happiness the two can practically be equated. In fact, a lack of social connection is a greater overall health risk than smoking!
Being lonely impacts your immune system as well as your susceptibility to anxiety, depression and antisocial behaviors.
There are other downsides to the reliance on technology and the constant checking of our phones, including: distractibility and inability to focus; increased accidents when driving, walking, and even cycling; and increased unhappiness because of Facebook and Instagram comparisons about the posted lives of other.
For today however, focus on your well-being, and put down the phone, the computer, or the notebook! Truly engage with the people around you and about whom you care. Experiment for an hour at a time, at least once a day, and notice if you experience a positive effect. Evidence says you will. Let me know your findings!