Ministry Resources

How will 9.9 Hours a day of Screen Time Define you?

Author: Angela Craig

It is time to rethink the obvious.

Smartphones and social media are reframing our calendar and defining our lives.

Over the last two-plus decades since the Internet IPO, internet users have increased from 35 million in 1995 to 2.8 billion in 2015. And 73 % of the global population uses a cellular phone (up from 1% in 1995).

One of the most interesting shocking statistics is that the average American spent 9.9 hours (yes, I said HOURS) per day on a screen in 2015.

  • Hours on a Screen

Internet Trends Analysis, Mary Meeker estimates we check our phones over 150 times a day. (She cannot be talking about you or me. No way!) 500 million pictures are taken and shared each day on popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with 150 million being shared on Snap Chat alone.2

In the last 30 minutes, I have received 2 emails from Pinterest alerting me to check out the new boards my friends have created, 1 email from Facebook detailing my weekly stats, 1 LinkedIn invitation, 1 LinkedIn endorsement, 1 new Twitter follower, 1 Instagram announcement and an email from my newest downfall, StumbleUpon alerting me to five more things they found that match my interests. (If you haven’t hooked up with StumbleUpon, you may want to stay away. It makes a memory bank of your interests and feeds you articles, pictures, and resources for every category. It is dangerously fun.) I have also received 4 text messages, 2 Facebook messages, and several “pop-up” notifications that a friend has posted something to Facebook, even though I do not have the Facebook page open on my computer. NOTICE, I said nothing about work emails, text messages or phone calls in the last 30 minutes.

How many social networks are you a part of in the picture below?

Social Media

Social networks not only commands our response, they test our self-concept. Think about the 30 minutes I detailed above. What started ten years ago for me as an innocent way to connect with friends and family or look up the football score of the Monday night football game, has now turned into a major distraction and test of my self-image.

In the last 30 minutes alone, I could have easily succumb to feelings of comparison, jealousy, gossip, escapism, fear, inspiration, encouragement, hope and an hour or more added to my day. Vertically, all at the same time with a click of the finger!

As the writer Christine Rosen observed in her 2007 article in The New Atlantis, “Does this technology, with its constant demands to collect (friends and status), and perform (by marketing ourselves), in some ways undermine our ability to attain what it promises-a surer sense of who we are and where we belong? The Delphic oracle’s guidance was know thyself. Today, in the world of online social networks, the oracle’s advice might be show thyself.”

I think the time distractions of social media are obvious, don’t you? Let’s talk about how social media is challenging and constructing our self-image.

The social identity theory proposed by Social Psychologists, Tajifel and Turner (1979) suggested that “individuals strive to maintain or enhance their self-esteem; they strive for a positive self-concept.”4

You are unique. Distinctive. You stand out. All of what is inside you, cries to be acknowledged. You were born this way. Our innate need to be seen by others can lead us to do whatever it takes to achieve approval and recognition. Because of this deep desire to be seen, interactions with others can become centered on our performance. We become actors on a stage of life. Our actions being guided and directed by audience approval and recognition. The approval and recognition that eventually affirms or challenges our self-image.5

The undeniable and constant ping of social networks, partnered with the emotional tugs of status, comparison, and recognition is creating a Pavlov effect. A sense of urgency that the ping must be answered immediately. With more and more people making social networks their main form of communication, it seems no longer reasonable to take a screen sabbatical if we want to stay connect with others. I am not even sure my teenage son knows how to dial a real telephone if I asked him too.

What is the solution? How to we maintain an authentic self-identity and still remain connected in the 21st century?

Here are five ways to make social networks work for you and your calendar:

  • Follow the Delphic oracle’s guidance: know thyself. This advice is a warning to pay no attention to other’s opinions. You were created by God to do great things. God’s approval and recognition is what counts.
  • Guard your network. Do not collect friends on social media like pennies. Friend those that have similar interest and character. People you can trust to build you up and move you forward.
  • Go through each of your social media accounts and have an honest conversation with yourself. What is your motivation for being a member? Does it build your business or your ego? Are you encouraging and cheering on others or looking for acknowledgement for what you do?
  • Cut out the time suckers. Period.
  • Become a Global Citizen and make an impact on the world. The HUGE benefit of social networks is how far they can reach. What are you passionate about? Check out the ideas on the GLOBAL CITIZEN website for ideas of how to use your social connections for good. Together, we can make a difference!
1 Gannes, L. (2015).

2 Stern, J. (2013).

3 Taylor, Jim (2011).

4 Tajifel, H, Turner, J, 1979, Differentiation Between Social Groups: Studies in the Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, Academic Press, London.

5 Goffman, E (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Harmondsworth: Penguin

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