Social media mimicked our natural daily life and helped add more value and ease to our ‘real’ world life.
Whenever someone old reflects on their life, they always mention how their youth years formed the foundation for life ahead. It is thus a concern that the youth today are being affected by the technology in all areas of their lives.
Below are some ways in which technology is affecting the youth today.
Depression & Anxiety:
"It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely” ~ Melissa G. Hunt, University of Pennsylvania USA
Social media is one giant pair of rose-tinted glasses. People are selective in their sharing online. It’s a channel to show off rather than to document. On social media, it appears that everyone else has a better life than you.
Initially, social media mimicked our natural daily life and helped add more value and ease to our ‘real’ world life. Our social media profiles portrayed what we were doing during the day. Over time the tables have turned.
Today, we are living our lives based on what we would like our online profiles to look like. The ‘Likes’ have become a sign of self-worth and validation for the young. It is scary to imagine that we are reducing the complex aspects of what makes the personality of a person into a single objective number.
All this leaves youngsters at a much higher risk of depression and anxiety.
Loss of Social activities:
“Sleep is our biggest competition” ~ Reed Hasting, CEO Netflix (April 2017)
We know the online consumption of media is increasing. What is important to note is that it is not just that the time allocated for television is now assigned to online entertainment. Online media is eating into the time that people were spending on socializing and outdoor activities. People are even forgoing their sleep in exchange for watching videos online.
By limiting the time for social activities, you restrict your social circle and feel lonely and then resort to more time online. Similarly, once you start sacrificing sleep, you are always tired, and thus you want to spend more time indoors in front of a screen. It is a vicious cycle.
Distracted minds & Loss of creativity:
Youth is constantly distracted. Constant notifications demand our time and attention away from whatever we are doing. Even with no notifications, we voluntarily start flipping through the phone to stay distracted. When was the last time that you waited at a restaurant or a doctor's office without taking your phone out? Researchers say that the current young generation has forgotten the sense of boredom. This is not a good thing.
When in a distracted state, we are spending time without any satisfaction or accomplishment. It is this very reason that an average youth is spending more than 50 hours on their phones every week, which is almost the same as working a full-time job.
Alone time and time for reflection are essential for a person to understand their thoughts. It is also a pre-requisite for any creativity. Today when we have a continuously distracted generation, we face the real challenge of having reduced creativity.
Some tips for the optimal use of technology
Technology is neutral, and it does not tell you how to use it. If used correctly it is beneficial. ‘Digital Mindfulness’ in daily life is critical to improve your relationship with technology. Below are some simple points to get started:
Measure: The first step would be to be aware of the extent of your usage. Observe your mobile phone usage and evaluate whether the hours spent on the phone were necessary? Are you able to recount what you did while you spent an hour on social media? This reflection would help you improve your usage.
There are also tools on both iOS and Android which help you measure your mobile phone usage.
Clean your phone: Remove all social media applications, mobile games. Turn off notifications from all the apps. By removing notifications, you take control of when you want to use the phone and not the other way around.
Get bored at times: Stop using the phone as a distraction. When taking a 15 minutes cab ride, it may be much better assimilating your thoughts looking outside the window rather than staring at a screen. Cherish the alone time. Alone time would help you to be more creative, improve your relationships and be happier.
Get an alarm clock: Stop using the phone as an alarm clock. When you use your phone as an alarm clock, you are very likely to waste your morning hours on the phone. Don’t let anyone else set the tone for the day. If you start your day on your terms, it would be much better.
-- Vinayak Garg, Entrepreneur, Writer & TedX Speaker