If you are reading this you have made a choice to continue after reading the title I tried to hook you with. You made a choice to forego, Apple News, MIC blogs, NY times news, twitter, tweets, a free ebook from Bookbub, your favorite health site, maybe even your socially responsible investment fund blog, all places you can read about things and events that are dramatic, interesting, funny, thought provoking and even irritating. And yet you are reading this blog. Maybe it was the first line, maybe you follow my blog because you are my friend, or maybe you were bored and made that one click while wasting time on Facebook.
A study done by Commonsense Media, a San Francisco based non profit trying to find solutions for the overwhelming amount of screen time youth are exposed to, states that the average amount of time youth between age 8 and 18 spend connected to a screen, is 9 hours a day. Average time, 9 hours a day! This does not include reading on e-readers, this does not include doing homework. I was shocked when I heard this. When are they eating, exercising/running around, sleeping, having sex? OK, I get it, you can eat and watch/text, tweet, at the same time. I guess you can run and text, maybe, definitely listen to music. I suppose you can have sex while watching your friends make out on Instagram, watch a scary movie while you are exploring your partner’s body, no eyes needed. But sleeping, you must turn the screen off if you sleep. Correct me if I am wrong on this one, maybe there is a sleep channel they tune in to.
I asked some millennials what they think is the issue of their generation. They said without hesitating, media, being connected to a screen all the time, having a virtual presence, and working on keeping that virtual presence alive. I imagine 12 yr olds posting pictures of themselves, posting cool activities, all to create an image that resembles some celebrity. Who are they going be when they grow up? Their virtual self or the person who unknowingly developed while they were busy creating themselves online? Do they even know what it is to feel awkward, ugly, nervous when they are busy creating their celebrity self? Will they encounter these feelings and overcome them?
My brain can’t take the endless hours with a screen, my eyes hurt, the stories all blur together, the news makes me gag. I get sick from too much screen time. The millennials are inoculated from birth and don’t get sick. At least not obviously. What will happen to these creatures, what kind of humanoids will they turn into? Will they buy houses? They live in a virtual world three fourth of the time, maybe they just need a dry place, a roof. Will they be shoppers who drive the economy or will they photoshop their image with on-line product images and not bother to fill their closets? Will they reproduce or continue to create a new species in their video games? A lot less messy, I can tell you that.
My question is, will they lose the difficult, messy experience that involves taste, touch, movement, and feelings, in the natural world, the experience we call life? I hope not, I am encouraged by the words of the twenty two year old, when he said, “I turn my screen off at least an hour before I want to fall asleep. I want quality sleep.”
Let’s hope they still want to experience a good life.