According to a report by Common Sense Media, teens and tweens in the United States are spending almost 6-9 hours on media technology, accessing videos, games, movies, books etc. through the smartphone, tablet or a laptop. In UK, people are spending more time with a smart phone than they are spending on sleeping. In India, this average time is somewhere around 2-3 hours but this will soon multiply tremendously as the country’s mobile internet using population touches a figure of 314 million by 2017. Why don’t these statistics surprise us? Because most of us are a part of these numbers.
Check for yourself. How much time do you spend facing a smart phone or a laptop screen? Including the moment you read this. You would realize that first thing you want to do when you wake up in the morning is check your smart phones for messages and mails. Probably, even before you grab your cup of coffee. Every minute of your “free-time” is spent on watching videos and movies or checking your social networking sites. In office, you are required to face the screen almost all the time. And when not accessing these gadgets, you are anxiously anticipating about what you are missing.
With more and more professions involving a huge amount of time being spent on the web, it has become necessary evil today. We realize that it’s crazy, it’s addictive and may be harmful too but it is too important to restrain from. We would rebuff anybody who suggested switching off our laptop and mobileeven for a few hours. There is obsessive-compulsive disorder type obligatory desire to remain connected. But it’s time you take a break. There is no greater perquisite to this time-out than an absolutely great time in a real tangible world. Just like the old days, if you know what I mean.
So here is a suggested plan of action. Switch off your laptop and turn off the data on your smart-phone (so as to receive only calls). Initially, the anxiety will be too much to handle. But stick to the resolve. You might also have difficulty in trying to find a better engaging activity. You might also realize that every path leads to the sinful world of internet. So here are a few things you might want to do on your no-laptop/smartphone day:-
1) Read an actual book instead of a kindle version. Visit the local library or an actual brick and mortar book shop.
2) Write a letter to somebody. Not an email but an actual letter.
3) Put on your sun-tan and spend some time in the garden. Tend to those shrubs.
4) Play some scrabble or Uno with your kid or with your friends with some music in the background.
5) Draw, paint, sculpt. Whatever you like. Just get your hands dirty.
6) Cook. Not a conventional meal but something that you have been thinking of cooking for so long. Try a new recipe.
7) Go watch a play in a theatre. Refrain from movies though. Remember we are trying to stay away from the screen.
8) Do something philanthropic. The world needs every minute contribution.
9) Go to the local park or rent a bicycle and go take a ride.
10) Visit a friend. And talk to them without being bothered by the constant buzzing of a mobile.
There could be multiple benefits of this ritual. Like relaxing your eyes for a day or giving a time-out to the brain. But the best part is- it feels great. It is like pausing the clock for a day. And when the clock resumes, you are refreshed and recharged for days to come. It is nice to not be enslaved by the necessary impulse to respond to that mail or answer the watsapp message right now.
Smart phones, laptops and other similar gadgets are here to stay and their share in our 24-hours in only going to increase. The importance of digital technology in making our lives convenient like never before cannot be undermined at all. But the extent to which it has overtaken our lives is disturbing. So while we turn towards the mobile and laptop screens for everything fun and work, it is for us to decide how much we want to spend in the virtual world and miss out on the beautiful things around us. Have a great no-smartphone day!
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