It has been almost two years since humanity first encountered the novel coronavirus, unraveling people and organizations at a global level. Among the many repercussions of the new normal, a very real problem that is on the rise is the increased usage and dependency on technology. The days when we could live without looking at a screen at work or home were long gone much before the pandemic broke out. However, COVID-19 has cemented this factor and it has now become impossible to carry out our jobs without computers and smartphones.
While this fact can easily be gleaned by taking a look at what’s going on around us, Eyesafe and Neilsen took things a bit further and collected data to confirm and analyze these suspicions. According to their findings, the amount of time spent on staring at screens by an average adult in the U.S. has surged dramatically. Before the coronavirus outbreak, adult screen time in a day was approximately eight and a half hours.
Fast forward to the post-pandemic era and the story shifts quite a lot. The numbers have shot up rapidly, going from the average eight and a half hours per day to a whopping ten hours in 2019. This continued to worsen in 2020 when the average daily screen time of a U.S. adult jumped up to about thirteen and a half hours a day. That’s more than half of your day whiled away with your eyes fixated on a display or screen of some sort.
American adults are more or less doing what they already did before the pandemic started. For most of them, their screen time is split between TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets, consoles, and other miscellaneous internet-connected devices. The proportion of time spent on individual types of screens has not changed much. What has changed is the overall amount of time going into every activity. This suggests that we are turning to technology more not only for professional work but also for recreation and personal use.
It is important to note that the figures provided for 2020 are estimates and therefore inexact in nature. We do not have any predicted or real-world information about 2021 either. However, the fact remains that we are using screens more than ever done before. We knew that the world was already headed that way but COVID-19 accelerated this phenomenally.
Are you wondering why is this a matter of concern? Besides having to worry about your eyesight, how bad could this really be? After all, technology has helped the human race advance beyond anything our forefathers could have imagined. In a few hundred years, dystopia has become reality as a direct product of the digital revolution. Education, business, infrastructure, medicine, and science have progressed exponentially. Without a doubt, we have benefited on a magnitude beyond reckoning.
Dr. Michael Rich of the Harvard Medical School shed some light on the effects of screen time on humans. He stated that screens can meddle with very critical functions such as sleep and even our creativity. According to the results of a study supported by the NIH, the blue light emitted by screens interrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythms. Especially when used before going to bed, these electronic devices disrupt our natural sleep-wake cycle.
This alarming increase in screen time of U.S. adults is a serious matter and should be given proper attention. Understanding what this rise in usage leads to is the key to realizing the gravity of the situation. Our collective health and wellness are at stake here and appropriate actions need to be taken to reverse the adverse effects.
Namerah is a Technology Journalist with experience at leading online publications like Android Central. She has a passion for all things tech and gaming, and has been an honorary Goodreads librarian since 2011. When she isn’t writing, she can be found chasing stray cats and dogs in the streets of Dhaka or slaying dragons in the land of Skyrim.