When I first started writing my book Log Off, I was surprised by the lack of research on excessive smartphoning, internetting, and social media. While there was some (mostly negative), there are still a lot of unanswered questions on how the behavior affects the quality of life in both children and adults.
To that end, I’m launching a nonprofit research foundation this year to study, promote, and lobby for the real-life effects plaguing so many. In the coming months, I hope to start conducting national surveys and educating the public beyond what my book started.
Until then, here’s a roundup of the most concerning research to date:
- Social media makes you unhappy. This is because we compare the fictionalized, highly edited lives of others against the full, often unglamorous picture of our own lives. After mounting evidence, even Facebook officials admitted as much two years ago, just weeks before my book first published. While it can be a positive in limited use, most social media users abuse the platform.
- Excessive screen times retards learning, sleep, and health. This is especially true in child development. For example, those who spend daily time on tablets have greater attention problems, are less expressive in speech, are more obese, sleep worse, suffer greater rates of depression, and experience noticeable behavioral problems, according to several reports.
- Smartphone abuse increases loneliness and reduces sex drives. Humans are social creatures but smartphones can frustrate that basic characteristic. When that happens, we isolate ourselves, suffer increased levels of depression, and share fewer intimate experiences, research has found.
The good news is there are several tips you can do right now to get a handle on bad digital habits. These 7 have done wonders for me and many more. So until we have more answers on the consequences of our behavior, we already know what works to prevent the negative side affects.
But we must be cognizant of what it takes to manage these powerful tools before they manage us. I hope you’ll join me in the fight.