I’m an addict. Really, I am. In fact, I’m probably the poster child for the modern addiction to electronic media. I carry my smartphone everywhere. Usually I have my iPad and Chromebook with me too. And I always have some electronic device when watching TV. Sometimes I find myself checking email on one device, when I’d just checked it on another. Crazy. It takes conscious, repeated, effort to walk away from all of that even for just a few minutes.
Though I’d like to think I’m an anomaly and I just need more self-control (or maybe a little help), the truth is many people are facing the same problem. Whether it’s watching TV or going online, people everywhere are stuck on electronics.
An article on BBC.com last autumn reported on a study where people in the UK between 16 and 24 multitask on electronics so much, the actually spend the equivalent of 14 hours and 7 minutes of activity in just 9 hours of real time. The same study showed people spend more time with electronic media each day than they do sleeping. And that didn’t include people who sleep with their electronics nearby, which I am also guilty of doing!
In America the statistics are even worse. This chart from Statista shows the average American over 18 spends at least 11 hours a day using or consuming electronic media.
I was surprised to see radio ranks second on the chart. But then I figured it probably includes Internet radio as well as broadcast. I know I listen to radio much more now with streaming than I did before, even when driving in the car. Which brings up another point made in the article from Statista: most of the time people are multitasking. So even though Americans watch almost 5 hours of TV a day, they are doing so while cooking dinner, or cleaning, or playing with their smartphone. Those 11 hours of media usage are probably compressed into fewer hours, just like in the study from the UK.
But still, is it possible we’re a little too engaged with electronics and not enough in the real world? What do you think?