That cellphone is stealing your life away

This editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Recent surveys show the average American spends about three to four hours each day on their cellphones. That’s more than a month a year.

A Deloitte survey found that people check their phones nearly 50 times a day, including at work. That’s an extreme distraction, perhaps even an addiction.

The Pew Research Center found nearly a third of Americans are online constantly — much of that on their phones. More than two-thirds of teenagers say they often or sometimes go on their phones to pass the time, according to Pew.

RescueTime, which provides time management advice and tools, said it found that most sessions on the phone last two minutes. That means people are constantly picking up and putting down their phones. If people did that in the days of landline phones, someone probably would have called a psychiatrist.

We’re looking at our phones and frittering away hours of our lives each day that would be better spent talking with friends, families and children. Or working. Or writing the great American novel.

All of us should try to plan dedicated time away from our phones.

Yes, sometimes the phones are needed for work. But, a reality check. Most of the time, people glued to a cellphone are surfing the internet or playing games or at best engaged in an intense messaging session about nothing too important. The time adds up.

Cellphones are remarkable inventions, giving us access to information from almost anywhere. Like any good thing — such as food or wine — too much causes problems. Overused, cellphones affect our mental health and relationships. Psychologists increasingly recognize a link between heavy social media usage and depression and anxiety. People become anxious if they forget their phone or must be without it.

Cellphone use is often impolite. People check their messages or text when talking to someone else. And then there’s the danger from people who are texting or using their phones while driving.

There’s no doubt that cellphones are changing the ways we interact with our fellow human beings. And many of those changes are not good.

Try to take a few more phone breaks during the day or resolve to put aside several hours when the cellphone is off-limits. It might just make for a better day or give a bit of insight into what’s going on with friends or family members.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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