As St. Paul wrote, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-2). Thanks to the steady rise of digital media, increased use of smart phones, and easy access to a myriad of media sources, much of the focus of our daily attention today is not on “the things of heaven,” but all about “the things of earth.”
As a basic self-care habit, train yourself is to limit your daily media intake. Learn to think more about the things of heaven, and spend less of your daily hours focusing upon “the things of earth.”
Consider the following Media Quiz and see how you understand current trends in USA with use of media in our daily lives.
- What percentage of USA adults own a smart phone?
- How many hours a day do people spend on their smart phones?
- How many hours a day are USA adults on some form of social media?
- What are the top 10 social media platforms used by USA adults today?
- How many years of your life will you spend on social media on average?
- How many times per day do USA adults touch their smart phone?
- How many times per day do USA adults check their smart phone?
- What percentage of USA adults find it very difficult or highly stressful to be without their smart phone?
- What percentage of USA adults sleep next to their smart phones?
- What percentage of USA adults check their smart phones within one hour of waking or sleeping?
Answers to Media Quiz
- 85% of USA adults own a smart phone in 2021. Ten years ago, in 2011, only 35% of USA adults owned a smart phone. This percentage continues to rise annually.
- in 2021, USA adults spend 3 to 4 hours per day on their smart phone. Just 5% say they spend less than an hour a day on their smart phone. Add in television, tablets and all other electronic screens, and USA adults are spending over 7 hours per day on screen time. By contrast, USA adults spend less than 45 minutes per day in person with family members.
- In 2020, USA adults spent 2-3 hours on average per day on some social media platform, such as Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.
- Top 10 Social Media Platforms in 2021: YouTube (81%), Facebook (69%), Instagram (40%), Pinterest (31%), LinkedIn (28), Snapchat (25%), Twitter (23%), WhatsApp (23%), TikTok (21%), Reddit (18%). These stats come from an April 2021 survey done by the Pew Research Center. See https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2021/04/07/social-media-use-in-2021/
- With an average lifespan of 72 years, a USA adult will spend 6-7 years of their life on social media. By contrast, people in USA will spend only 1 year of their total life face to face with other people.
- USA adults on average touch their smart phones 2600 times per day. Heavy users touch their smart phones over 5400 times per day.
- USA adults check their phones 60 to 90 times per day. The average is once every 10 minutes during waking hours.
- 66%, 2 out of 3 USA adults find it very difficult or highly stressful to be away from their smart phone. Psychologists term this nomophobia, or a fear of being with NO MO-bile device. People who suffer from nomophobia experience stress when their phone isn’t near by, a stress that is a form of separation anxiety that can be identified by such symptoms as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, depression, or even panic.
- 71% or nearly 3 out of 4 USA adults sleep with their smart phones within reach.
- 81% of USA adults check their smart phones within one hour of waking or sleeping. One third of these check their smart phones within 5 minutes of waking.
How to Limit Your Media Intake
One of the wise and healthy ways to practice self-care is to limit your media intake daily. Here are several ways that I’ve found helpful.
- Fix your eyes upon what is eternal. Enjoy more time in God’s presence, soaking in the glory and wonder of time with God who is compassionate, gracious, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The more we are in love with God, the less we will be enthralled and captivated with temporal sources of entertainment or information.
- Choose reliable news sources that report facts, and avoid media that sensationalizes emotions. I love to check https://www.allsides.com/unbiased-balanced-news, a media news source that offers news from a variety of media biases, and lets readers know what those media biases are according to daily vetting. Here’s what they state under their Media Bias tab: “Everyone is biased — and that’s okay. But hidden media bias misleads, manipulates and divides us. AllSides Media Bias Ratings™ make media bias transparent, helping you to easily identify different perspectives so you can get the full picture and think for yourself. By making the political leanings of hundreds of media sources transparent, AllSides frees people from one-sided filter bubbles so they can better understand the world — and each other. Knowing the political bias of media outlets allows you to consume a balanced news diet and avoid manipulation and fake news.” No news source is perfect or will give you unbiased reporting. Know the sources you are relying upon, check and cross check reporting and news statements to see how they are reported across various biases. Get to know your own biases and media leanings.
- Stretch yourself by reading or viewing news/media that is outside your bubble. We all have a media bubble. Get to know your media bias, and be willing to step outside your media bubble, to better understand others with whom you disagree.
- Limit your media/news exposure. Choose this week to spend less time watching news, less time on your phone reading news. Choose to put into that place, and into that time spending time reading God’s Word, time praying, time with friends, time in God’s Creation.
- Take a break from news. Choose instead to spend time with people you love, or spend time alone in solitude without any media or electronic devices. Spend time daily in God’s Word, memorizing longer passages of Scripture to fill your mind with things above.
- Do a “Digital Declutter” over a 30-Day Period. In Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (See https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Minimalism-Choosing-Focused-Noisy/dp/0525536515/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1633373677&sr=1-1) Newport offers the following ways to do a 30-Day Digital Declutter: 1) “Put aside a thirty-day period during which you will take a break from optional technologies in your life.” 2) “During this thirty-day break, explore and rediscover activities and behaviors that you find satisfying and meaningful.” 3) “At the end of the thirty-day break, reintroduce optional technologies into your life, determining what value each serves in your life and how specifically you will use it so as to maximize this value.”
- Take the media inventory below to assess your own personal media habits. Become aware of your use of your smart phone, your use of your laptop or tablet, and your use of your television or smart screen at home and at work. Until you know what you are doing, you will be unable to adjust or limit what you are doing.
- Establish healthy media habits for yourself and for your children. For those reading this who are parents raising children at home, work together as a family in practicing good self-care by limiting your media intake in your home. Check the family media habits list below.
- How many hours a day do I spend on my smart phone? ____
- How many hours a day am I on some form of social media? ___
- What are the top 3 social media platforms I use daily? ___ ___ ___
- How many times per day do I touch my smart phone? _____
- How many times per day do I check my smart phone? ____
- How stressful is it for me to be without my smart phone? 0 (not at all stressful) —– 5 (somewhat stressful) ——–10 (highly stressful)
- How often do I sleep next to my smart phone? Never, 1-3 nights per week, 4-7 nights per week.
- How often do I check my smart phone within one hour of waking or sleeping? Never, Sometimes, Almost Always.
Top Ten Family Media Habits
In his 2002 book, The Other Parent: The Inside Story of Media’s Effect on our Children, James P. Steyer (founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, the nation’s leading advocacy organization for kids and media) offers the following family media habits.
- ESTABLISH GOOD MEDIA HABITS EARLY.
- NO TV OR COMPUTER IN A CHILD’S ROOM.
- SET A MEDIA DIET AND STICK TO IT.
- TEACH A CHILD TO ASK PERMISSION TO USE MEDIA.
- WATCH AND LISTEN TOGETHER WITH YOUR KIDS.
- SET CLEAR RULES ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S MEDIA USE IN OTHER HOMES.
- ASK YOUR PEDIATRICIAN TO REVIEW YOUR CHILD’S MEDIA USE AT AN ANNUAL CHECKUP.
- TEACH MEDIA LITERACY TO YOUR CHILDREN.
- READ TO YOUR CHILD AND SHARE POSITIVE MEDIA EXPERIENCES.
- SWITCH THE DIAL TO “OFF.”
“The Other Parent” by James P. Steyer; (New York: Atria Books, 2002)