By Dan Ginn
Do you remember as a child all you wanted to do was go out and play? To breathe in the fresh air and have fun with your friends? Everywhere was a playground back then. Today, the narrative is not quite the same. The social playground is situated inside a five inch screen and we don’t even have to leave our couch to go and play in it. How did that happen?
Over the course of the last decade, with the birth of the smartphone and social media, we have become accustomed to spending hours upon hours of our day looking at a screen. Our friendship groups live in a little online bubble and the quality of your real social time is decreasing because of it.
Sadly, the quality of our mental health is being impacted too. Several studies have shown how too much screen time contributes to depression, addiction and social anxiety. Those who spend more time interacting on the internet, are less likely to have the skills and ability to develop real life connections with people. They become dependent on the cyber world and their self esteem suffers because of it.
Social media and the development of technology are not inherently a bad thing. There’s no doubt that they’ve played a positive role in bringing people together. What we need, however, is balance. A way of juggling screen time and social time in order to have a better quality of life for ourselves and those around us. How can we do that?
Have Screen Time Boundaries
The reality is that all the major social media companies design their product in a way that is meant to keep you hooked. In order to counter this you’re going to need to be proactive in regards to managing the time you spend with your devices – with the aim of giving yourself more time to be social in the real world.
Let’s take a closer look at some steps you can take.
No Social Media in The Morning And Night
It’s not uncommon for people to scroll through their phones, laptops and tablets just before they go to sleep and as soon they wake up. In some cases people have even admitted to checking their devices when they get up in the middle of the night.
Instead of doing this, make a rule that you will not use your device at least one hour before going to sleep and at least one hour after waking up. Spend that time having a conversation with a loved one. Without technology distracting you, you’re likely to have a more meaningful dialogue with someone who is actually in the same room as you.
If you live alone, use that time to set a plan for your day or read a book, something that will benefit you more than a clickbait internet article with the headline “You Won’t Believe What She Did Next”.
Only Use Your Device When Needed
Whether it’s a video call, tweet or arranging a meetup with a Jelato contact, we know how useful and important your device can be. Using it to your advantage is a good thing – overusing it is when things become problematic.
Set yourself the standard that you will only use your device to complete tasks that you genuinely need to. Once you notice yourself getting into the habit of mindlessly scrolling, opening and closing apps and not being present, it’s time to put your device down.
Log on, complete your tasks and shut down. This helps your mind to be more open and enthusiastic about doing something more social in the real world – like a nice picnic in the park with friends and family!
Be Proactive at Social Events
When you’re next in a social environment, we encourage you to keep your phone in your pocket (unless you’re using Jeleto to connect with likeminded people). All too often you find people using their devices when they have the opportunity to have some real conversation.
We know putting yourself out there can be daunting, but try not to fall into the trap of hiding behind your phone.
Start with some simple steps. Introduce yourself to someone. Ask them how their day is going. Small talk is a great stepping stone to deeper, more meaningful conversation. It’s also a great way to boost your confidence – an important element when improving your social skills.
If you’re with people you already know, make sure your mind is fully present. The outcome will be that you have much more fun, and soaking in the atmosphere will ensure you create some wonderful new memories.
A Healthy Balance is a Happy Life
Balancing your screen time and social time is going to give you a sense of freedom. It will improve your social skills and boost your self-esteem. You were not designed to spend your life imprisoned in a bright and colourful screen. You’re here to develop and truly connect with the people around you.s
So, whilst we’re not telling you to completely stop using your device, we are reminding you to put it down. Remember there is a world full of fun, supportive and genuine human connectivity out there – we don’t want you to miss out.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Dan Ginn is a freelance writer based in London. For more information, please visit danginnphoto.com
HEADER PHOTO: Matheus Bertelli at pexels.com
Jelato is about improving our social environments and making it easier to connect with those around you. Learn more about the App here!