By Caoimhe MacLochlainn
In Britain, 84% of young people aged 18-24 use their mobile phone mostly to listen to music. Contrastingly, 83% of Brits aged 25-49 use their mobile phone mostly for text messaging, according to YouGov. Between phones, laptops, tablets, TVs and more, people are constantly plugged into technology. Not only can it distract people from getting to-do lists done, but it may also impact adversely on mental health.
In 2021, there are a lot of apps available to limit daily screen time. The issue of mobile phone addiction has become a focus of tech companies in recent years, with Apple launching its Screen Time feature with iOS 12 in order to allow users to set limitations on how much they use their iPhone. The iPhone itself has a feature within the screen time setting called Downtime – this is where people can set a schedule for time away from the screen. During this period, after the feature is activated, only apps that are chosen and phone calls will still be available. Users can set this for different times every day, with a reminder five minutes before it begins.
Another useful tool available on iOS and android devices is the Do Not Disturb feature. It is a helpful setting for periods when people do not want to be interrupted – such as meetings or at night. Senior support technician, Joe Ravera (23), from Worthing, said he uses this feature every day, “I put DND on when I’m working, so roughly around nine o’clock in the morning up until when I finish. The reason being is that I’m working from home at the minute and I just find myself scrolling needlessly and won’t get any work done.”
Joe, like most young people, found himself on his phone too much in lockdown and actively tries to combat this by keeping his screen time to a minimum.
“I only want to be on it if I need to be on it. I’ve got a time limit as well on Instagram, so when I’ve been on it for 45 minutes in a day it will tell me and I’ll come off it straight away. My screen time per day at the minute is between three and four hours – I also have my screen time on my home screen to monitor easier,” he said.
Screens are the common denominator. The World Health Organization, which previously warned parents in 2019 about the dangers of being sedentary, has suggested that “More video-game play can help to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
They said letting children have a bit of extra screen-time helps to combat the stress of sheltering in place.
Buncrana woman, Ola Podolecka (23), Master of Arts in Psychology, believes that mobile phones, for the most part, are beneficial and helpful, especially during pandemic times. Ola explained that “Perhaps this excessive use and dependency increased during the pandemic due to boredom, working/studying from home or ‘staying in touch’. Although there are numerous positives attached to mobile phone use, there are certainly negative aspects to match them.
“Excessive mobile phone use can negatively affect the well being of an individual. For instance, depression, sleep disturbances, headaches and eyesight deterioration have been linked to mobile phone dependency.
“It is clear that reducing screen time is essential as the excessive need for ‘scrolling’ can lead to a number of psychological issues. Reducing screen time, specifically social media, is one of the first interventions recommended by professionals when it comes to battling depression and/or anxiety.
“Further, going back to basics and using your mobile phone for communications (calls, texts, emails etc.) only can have a beneficial effect on our mood and psychological well-being. It is clear that mobile phones can for the most part be beneficial. However, it is essential that we be mindful of mobile phone dependency,” she said.
Still unable to leave their homes to socialise with friends and family, people are increasingly turning to their mobile phones for entertainment and to stay connected.