Smartphones, social media, video games, and myriad other digital distractions have become the love-hate locus of our modern era. Simultaneously indispensable and hopelessly hard to put down, digital devices and online experiences occupy about nine hours of the average teenager’s day, according to a survey by Common Sense. Think grown-ups log less screen time? Nope — adults average nearly 9.5 hours, more than 80% of which is on personal screen media, not work.
But a correction may be on the horizon. In a recent HP survey exploring how people feel about their relationships with their screens, 63% of respondents said they think their digital lives and their real lives are out of balance, while 60% said they wish they could return to a time before social media. Many people, including tech evangelists, are recognizing the need to balance the positive benefits of technology while curbing digital distraction to make time for real-world experiences with friends and family. There’s also growing interest and desire to reintroduce analog, tactile, real-world experiences into our lives, from printed books and vinyl records to phone-free dinner parties and “digital detox” retreats.
“I see it in my own life — I can't get through five minutes of a Netflix show before I pause to check Twitter,” says Deepak Masand, global head of print marketing at HP. “Then, when I have a real moment, like a dinner with no phones and real conversations, I think, 'Wow. That's what real feels like.' And it feels really good."
Reinforcing connections with friends and family doesn’t mean giving up on technology altogether. It’s about being more mindful of the impact technology is having in your daily life and relationships, and how you can take steps to avoid losing touch with what’s real.
“Technology is an ally of humans, our experiences, our potential, and sometimes just sheer joy,” says Masand. “But there’s no way technology can replicate the richness of reality. Real is just so much more magical.”