With great power comes great responsibility – a phrase by Uncle Ben (Spiderman, not the rice brand) that has become a cliché by now, but is very much applicable to technology. A currently trending subject is responsibility within the tech domain. According to the market-research group Nielsen, adults are spending over 11 hours per day interacting with media. Even though mobile technology has vastly improved quality of life around the globe, overconsumption has caused a new societal problem – screen addiction.
Screen addiction has been a highly debated subject for some years now. There is very little scientific evidence that a high amount of screen time causes extensive harm to one’s physical health. However, mental health issues have been proven. Public awareness around the subject has risen in recent years. An increasing number of schools are opting for digital teaching material, and mobile screen technology has turned affordable and accessible. We need to ask ourselves, how can we ensure that future generations don’t grow up to be screen addicts?
Vertical, in collaboration with Samsung, has started to engage startup companies for solutions tackling this very subject. How can we create long-lasting and sustainable technological solutions to ensure a more healthy way of handling screen-time? Apart from parental guidance such as “media free car”, “media-free dining table” and “media free-bedroom”, how can we ensure that especially younger generations use technology for healthy purposes, and not only as a filler to fill the void of boredom?
Even though screen addiction is widely discussed amongst adults, it’s often over-exaggerated. The signs of a screen-addicted person are very similar to those of, for example, an alcoholic. When a person starts to actively hide their screen usage, feeling a sense of guilt, or making up excuses to look at their screen, signs become more alarming. However, using your phone as a way to escape boredom on e.g. a train ride is in no way a sign of addiction – it is comparable to reading a book or a newspaper.
The most common symptom of too much screen time is lapsing quality of sleep. Especially millennials are having an increasingly harder time falling asleep – the common denominator being extensive screen time. There are some simple fixes to this – turn on the blue light filter of your device, turn down the volume of whatever you are watching, or simply don’t use a media device for some time before going to sleep.
If you happen to work for a startup company tackling adult screen addiction, don’t hesitate to apply to the Healthy Use of Technology programme by Samsung & Vertical.