How social media isn’t social.

“Wait, so how do you think you did on that math test? I thought it was kinda easy. I’m sure I did ok, and you?” I asked. Absolute silence…. crickets chirping.  I asked again, “How do you think you did?” After a long silence, my friend replied without looking up, “What? . . . Oh, um that was easy. I think I did fine. Sorry I wasn’t listening.”  

I sighed and turned on my own phone. It’s better to stare at a screen for the next 58 minutes than talk to a tech addict. This is but one example of the daily “interactions” I have with friends. 

Over the past year, I’ve noticed people prefer phones to friends. I see them everywhere with their eyes glued to their screens and headphones dangling around their necks. Heads down and rapid-fire typing, they send text messages and Snaps while scrolling through Instagram feeds.  

 Lately, parents and researchers noticed an alarming trend. Daily phone usage was rapidly increasing among Americans, especially teenagers. The most common use for cell-phones among teenagers is social media and the average teenager checks their phones 150 times a day, according to KPCB Internet Trends Report.

Lately, teens have become more aware of their increased cell-phone usage. They even began to admit that they are addicted to their smartphones and prefer the online world to the real world.

 According to a Pew research study, 52% of teenagers attempted have cut back on their phone usage and 57% have tried to cut back on social media usage. Unfortunately, for these teenagers, turning off their phones for an hour doesn’t lead to feeling relaxed and happy. Teens who turn off their cellphones report feeling anxious, lonely or upset when separated from their device. 

For any teenagers, including me, not being able to check social media for an hour sounds horrifying. I get bored easily and I’m afraid that I’ll miss a new and hilarious Snapchat story, since those are only visible for 24 hours and can be deleted as quickly as they are posted. 

Fortunately, there are ways you can begin decreasing your screen-time. One easy way to cut down is by leaving your phone in another room before you go to bed. The blue light from your screen won’t convince your brain it’s daytime when it is in another room 

A method I used to cut down my screen-time is turning off all notifications on my phone. When you’re not bombarded with flashing alerts telling you to reply to this email or to that Snapchat, then you will feel less pressured to check your phone every few seconds. When notifications are off, you will be forced to dedicate all of your attention to your work or current task. You won’t fall down a rabbit-hole of distractions. When you’re done, it’s perfectly ok to resume scrolling. 

Decreasing my screen-time is not easy for me. I have tried turning off notifications, but found that it makes me more eager to check my phone, since I could be missing something important and not even know it. I also still charge my phone next to my bed at night, which leads me to losing sleep from staring at my screen. 

My best trick for decreasing screen-time is to turn off my cellualar data when I am not home. If I use too much data when I am out, then I will run out of data, leaving me with no way to check the internet for two weeks until it is turned on. I’m forced to pick my head up and interact with the people I am with. I also do not want to overuse my data because I might not have any for emergencies. 

To step away from unsocial media, try turning off cellular data. It won’t be easy, but eventually you’ll see that face-to-face friends are incredibly rare and valuable, and a lot more exciting than a cold, flat screen. Real people are more fun than pixels.


Leave a Reply