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Guest Blog: Diary of a Screen Addict
My name is Rio, and I have a screen problem.

If you’re similar to me- and the statistics suggest you most likely are, in the respect you own a mobile phone and other devices, you may be addicted to your screens in an unproductive way too. I’m a young adult who’s been a phone user for just under half my life, however sometime at the start of the year I fell down the slippery slope into addiction. My main symptoms include instantly reaching for my device as soon as I wake up, automatically using my phone to fill any spare moment I have during the day, and the feeling that I’m cut off from the rest of the world when I’m without it.

During lockdown especially, we’ve all had a lot more free time on our hands, and our phones feel like an extension of our limbs. The time I would usually spend travelling, going to the cinema, shopping centre, gym, or hanging out with friends has now been replaced with a TV, mobile phone, or tablet.

The following is a diary entry I’m not proud of, but can hopefully give an insight into the constant dependency between myself and my device. Do any of these relate to you?


Diary

10:30am: After hitting the snooze button on my alarm for the third time, I'm no longer tired enough to go back to bed, nor am I awake enough to get up and out of it. After replying to a couple messages I open up Instagram and catch up on any of my friends' pictures, especially the few who have managed to go on holiday! As well posts from meme accounts I may have missed while sleeping. Then I check my Twitter feed, and click the search bar to see who’s been trending and why for that day, and finally Tik Tok in the hope there’s been a new dance or challenge that's gone viral! I glance at the top left corner of my screen and check the time - with a start, I realise the first hour of my morning has been hijacked yet again! I can always get into a good routine tomorrow...

11:15am: As quickly as I'm up and out of bed, I find myself sitting down again, this time in the bathroom. There’s no better place to multitask; I can take care of my business without the feeling I’m missing out on anything!
The pins and needles in my legs are usually my wake up call to finish up and get ready for my shower. There’s no better feeling than listening to music while you shower, so while the water is running I select one of my favourite Spotify playlists to get the day started.

12:15pm:
I arrive downstairs to a sarcastic ‘Afternoon’ from my Dad. It never seems to get old for him.
Brunch is now served, all I need now is a stand to prop my phone up and I can enjoy the luxury of eating whilst watching YouTube videos. The idea of eating without any distractions to me seems so boring. Usually, this would be a time where I’d chat with my family, but now I'm lucky if our meals even last 5 minutes before everyone runs off to do something! So instead of catching up with them, I catch up on Fortnite or Call of Duty gaming streams while tucking into my food.

2:30pm: Before I know it’s nearly 3pm and that means the football is about to start!. Before I can get settled on the sofa my Dad asks me to run down to the shop and pick up some snacks. As I leave the house I tap my pockets to make sure I have everything: wallet, keys, phone... Where’s my phone? Before I start to panic, I realise I must’ve left it while I was putting my shoes on. I decided to rush back home to get it, I mean how can anyone go around without their phone, it’s like walking outside without your trousers on!

6:00pm: Towards the evening is when I get the dreaded message that my phone has only 20% battery left. This gives me a good chance to plug my phone on charge while I play FIFA on the Playstation. It’s routine for me to check my phone whenever it's half time, and give a quick reply to my girlfriend before I start playing again.
Sometimes from the corner of my eye I feel like my phone lights up and I’ve received a new message, but when i check, nothing is there! Does this happen to anyone else?

12:00am: After my routine aimless scrolling past my bedtime, my eyes start to get heavy as I scroll through Facebook; a good sign I should be going to bed. I tuck my phone into bed next to me, and I promise myself that tomorrow I won’t waste so much time looking at my screen, that’s until it wakes me up in the morning of course…

How Can I Kick The Habit?

Smartphones can make staying up to date with current events, sharing funny posts with your mates, and keeping in touch with your family entirely effortless. They are designed to entertain us, as well as provide us with information. There is also evidence to suggest that social media can be beneficial for your self-esteem. However, it’s important to note we don’t necessarily need access to this information and entertainment all the time.
This feeling that we need to be constantly connected leads to the sense that we can never really log off due to the fear of being cut off without it. An Ofcom study has shown that people in the UK now check their smartphones every 12 minutes from when they wake up until they go to sleep, and for young people under the age of 21, this figure is as quick as every 8.6 minutes.
Remember, mobile phone applications aren’t inherently bad. The impact it has on us purely comes down to our own ways of using it. For instance, someone re-watching Friends on Netflix all day, is very different to someone using their phone to learn a new language on Duolingo, despite the possibility they could have the same screen time.

The focus shouldn’t be on the technologies themselves, but more our own choices on how we use them. We need to check our own behaviour when using technology on a daily basis, and must ask ourselves ‘When is screen time too much screen time?’.


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