**flashback to 2005, Malaysia**
When I was in my early teens, my mom would yell (yes, yell!) at me for spending too much time on the computer. Specifically, MSN Messenger.
So I would turn off the computer to avoid her from further yelling at me, go down to the living room and join her to watch some TV shows. I just thought it’s ironic how I have to stop using the computer just to join my mother to watch tv.
Which begs the question; is there really “too much” digital media usage?
**2020, The Netherlands**
A lot of my friends have, at one point of time, tried to minimize their use of anything electronic. That includes trying to read more books (not on Kindle. No hate, I own both paperbacks and a Kindle) instead of watching TV, meeting friends face to face instead of calling/texting, or reducing the usage of apps on their phones (the most common ones these days). Not that I have anything against it, I even set up time limits for my own use of Instagram.
But in a world where every business is expected to have a website, where every major news provider relies on internet connection to be first, where rising artist rely on online platform to succeed, is there really still “too much”?
What defines “too much”?
In 2010, Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) conducted a study on the usage of media in children and teenagers (8 – 18 years old). The main conclusion was that there was an increase in the average time spent by children on media. They also categorized heavy users as children who spent 16 hours or more on media.
But I’m interested in the increase of average time.
It was 7 hours and 29 minutes in 1999, and it increased to 10 hours 45 minutes as of 2009 (the study was published in 2010). Media usage includes all sorts of media, i.e. TV, radio, internet, mobile phones. I couldn’t access a similar study for 2020, but one can assume that the numbers would show a similar pattern of increase.
Which brings me back to my question of… what defines “too much”?
If there is an increase of average time spent on media every year (or every decade), that means the norm has increased. Won’t the line that defines “too much” also increase?
Doesn’t it become just a matter of perspective?
For example, we are probably used to spending 12 hours a day on media (just saying as an example, no actual evidence here). 15 years from now, the average hours could increase to 16 hours. Some of use could think that’s too much, whereas some won’t. (Again, I’m just trying to put out an example to explain my idea of perspective)
I am not in any way trying to justify the over-usage of media,
even though I myself don’t know what exactly is over-usage. I would like to again highlight that I mean media as an umbrella term here, and not specifically mobile phones, or the internet, or tv or social media.
I think that it can be (and is) detrimental if you spend 10 whole hours a day, solely on watching tv. Unless you’re a paid, full time tv show/movies critic.
It’s detrimental if you spend a big chunk of your 24 hours a day on social media. Unless your work requires you to be on social media (e.g. customer service).
It’s detrimental to you if you spend most of your day on your mobile phone. Unless your work revolves around your mobile phone (e.g. answering emails, calling people, and so on).
My point is, context is important. Too much of anything is bad, true. But how can we say that it’s bad to spend a lot of time on digital media, if most of today’s world is online?
Leave your thoughts below in the comments.
There are definitely aspects of spending time on media that is detrimental to our physique (e.g. declining eye sight and bad posture) but the point of this entry is to question what is too much media usage.