A poll that got some play last week said that Canadian smart phone owners spend about 86% of their free time looking at a screen.
I’m sure my numbers are ranging up around there as well. And that sounds terrible, as though I’m frittering my life away as a couch potato, playing violent games, reading Facebook posts, and watching mindless television.
When really, for me, I believe it’s not so much a change of activity as just a change of medium. I used to read books, magazines, and newspaper exclusively on paper. Now, more and more, I read them on screens. But regardless, it’s still a good activity for my brain.
And, I used to write letters with pen and paper. Now I communicate via some kind of screen, mostly. Which is a relief to my recipients, as my handwriting is terrible. (And sometimes, I will still print the results on paper and mail them out, just to be retro.) Nevertheless, I’m still keeping up social ties.
What about exercise? It’s not new that I do that in front of screens. First with VHS, now with DVDs, and I imagine I’ll move on to streaming options in the future, but regardless, I’m a long-time fan of following along with video workouts. And my collection of music DVDs are a big help in getting through treadmill and free weight workouts. Inside or out, with screens or nature, it’s still good for the body.
Thanks to digital sheet music, I even use screens when making music. I now have this Bluetooth foot pedal so I can change pages without lifting hand from keyboard. It’s very cool.
[And the article has “listening to radio” as a non-digital activity. Who in the world ever just sits and listens to the radio, without also doing something else at the same time—driving, cooking, brushing your teeth, paying your bills? And aren’t most radio stations accessible online? To list “listening to radio” as an activity in itself is just peculiar.]
But all that defensiveness aside… I do believe it’s good to get out into the real world and interact with it directly, sans screens. And, I’ll admit, I sometimes I suspect my balance there is off.
A real symptom of this is my, frankly, incredibly low usage of my smart phone. Per the poll, average smart phone usage is 1.5 hours a day. Here I am way below average, at maybe 3 minutes per day?
Because basically, most of what I can do on a phone I can also do on a tablet or computer. And given a choice, I’d rather use those, because the screens are bigger. The phone’s advantage is great portability + not requiring an Internet connection. So it’s fantastic when you’re out and about; often it’s the the only option there.
I’m having to conclude I’m just not “out and about” that much.
(On the plus side, my cell phone bill is only $30 a month, including data! For those not from Canada: That’s pretty good.)
Nevertheless, I did recently upgrade my cell phone. The old one had the world’s tiniest amount of storage, and that was making it incredibly difficult to update the few phone apps I do consider critical: Evernote, Twitter, Swiftkey, Gmail, GPS. Weary of its constant “Out of space” warnings, I paid it off the old and am now the proud owner of an unlocked, 16 GB, Google Nexus 4.
I am stunned at the speed of this thing, I must say; couldn’t believe how fast everything downs (on the same wifi connection as before). It also has a nice, sharp screen and the very latest version of the Android OS. My older Android tablet seems rather stodgy by comparison.
So given that nice design, I’d actually like to use it more, but that just isn’t going to happen unless I actually get out, away from home and office, more often. Ironic?