Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 28, 2016--The Cyber Effect

At the recommendation of Lynn Roth, I've been reading Mary Aiken's Cyber Effect. About the neurological and psychological effects of different levels of involvement with "screens"--computers and various kinds of mobile devices. Especially on young people where over-involvement can lead, research shows, to developmental deficits.

Aiken is not close to being a Luddite. She does see the world in many ways positively transformed by the Internet and how people access and use it.

But she does caution about excessive, mindless usage. Particularly, of video games which astonishingly gross in income more than all cable, network TV, and the movie industry combined.

On average, studies she cites, reveal that people who have smart phones--by now, nearly everyone--use them actively more than three hours a day. And, if one adds screen-time on laptops, usage among the young can reach more than eight hours a day.

Or at least that's what people say about themselves. I suspect the hours of involvement that people report is an underestimate. As when asked what TV shows they watch they are more inclined to say, "Of course, anything on PBS," when in reality they're watching the Kardashians. Or when dieting people are asked what they eat in a day they tend to leave out high-caloric snacks.

So, to check myself out and not make my own underestimation of my Internet usage--or addiction--I kept a careful and honest log of my screen time this past Saturday. Note that I'm an early riser and thus shut down my computer early as well.

4:52 a.m. for 12 minutes
8:38 a.m. for 3 minutes
11:32 a.m. for 24 minutes
2:20 p.m. for 3 minutes
4:26 p.m. for 7 minutes
5:22 p.m. for 6 minutes
5:38 p.m. for 3 minutes
6:16 p.m. for 7 minutes
7:35 p.m. for 4 minutes
8:22 p.m. for 1 minute

I checked in or did a bit of surfing 10 times during the day for a total of 70 minutes. An hour and 10 minutes--well under average.

Two more notes--

I do not have a smart phone--only a laptop--and have very few email or Facebook friends.

I think I'm happy about this. I like my quiet and privacy. But the again I feel I'm not fully participating in the 21st century.

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