When I was 15 years old, I got my first mobile phone. At the time it couldn’t do much. Since then, mobile phones have come a long way and so has our relationship with them.
These devices can save us a lot of time, such as searching for information or shopping . However, they can also waste a lot of time. Many people spend hours and hours on computers idly “surfing” the endless waves of cyberspace. Others spend hours playing games on mobile phones whilst watching back to back episodes of various dramas on TV, doubling our exposure to screens at any one time.
It’s even common for people to “double screen” or even “triple screen”: watching TV, whilst using both a mobile phone and a tablet. In fact, a study by GAME found double screening has become the norm for 80% of Brits (www.dotrising.com). The amount of time we spend on computers, phones, tablets etc. is a large chunk of most of our lives. To some extent it is almost unavoidable in some situations, such as at work, and can become excessive. In fact, for many of us, this could mean the time saved by using these devices is often outweighed by the time wasted on them.
So what could be the consequences of this? We usually use these devices sitting down, which can contribute towards a sedentary lifestyle, lack of time spent on exercise, and over straining the eyes, i.e. adverse health implications. Another is the impact on relationships – talking to someone whilst staring at the TV or phone, especially if they have something important to tell you, is unlikely to help clarify issues and provide comfort.
Relationships, like anything else, require attention to grow and strengthen. If our attention is always on a screen then we can not strengthen relationships as much. There is a hadith from our beloved Prophet (PBUH) “The best of you is he who is best to his family, and I am the best among you to my family.” Being good to your family includes giving them the attention and time they deserve.
One of the ironies of our time is that whilst we have all these devices to save time, as well as other technology such as microwaves, washing machines, dishwashers etc., we still feel so rushed, as if we haven’t got enough time. Part of this may be because the time we work so hard trying to save, we waste so easily on excessive time spent on phones, tablets and other technology. They are very useful if used correctly, but of course like everything, as long as it is in moderation.
Tips to avoid spending too much time on screens:
Staring at some screen
Tap tap on the keyboard
Click click on the mouse
Been doing this all day now
Not stepped out of the house
What have I been searching?
What websites have I been on?
I can’t actually remember
And the whole day has gone!
I still have so much work to do
It feels like such a load
But first I’ll sit in front of the TV
And catch up on a few episodes
(A few years pass like the above):
Still not much done, got so much to do
One thing I’d like to know
Please can you help me understand
Where does all the time go?
(50 years later):
I can’t talk much of what I’ve done
Who I’ve met, where I’ve been
To be honest most of my life
I’ve been staring at some screen!
Written by Saqib Hussain
Lucy Smeddle. (2013). Double screening now the norm for 80% of Brits. Available: http://www.dotrising.com/2013/11/21/double-screening-now-the-norm-for-80-of-brits/ . Last accessed 11th January 2015