The screen on my iPad went dark, and the only image that remained was the reflection of my sunken face on the glass. I was startled at how bad I looked—a similar feeling to when you hear your own recorded voice and think, “How do I have any friends?” It was as if the dead battery in my iPad broke some sort of trance and I was free to see beyond my own nose.

I looked about the room and then wondered, “How many hours of the day do I actually spend looking at a screen?” After that thought, I suddenly became cognizant of my every glance toward a digital display. Out of curiosity, I decided to experiment and clock my screen time during one typical weekday.

The timer began with my morning alarm and burning my eyes in an attempt to swipe the snooze button on the bright screen of my smart phone. The regular routine continued with checking email, text messages and missed calls from the previous night—all before even getting out of bed. I got a slight rest from the screen until I arrived at work, where the two monitors on my desk were in sleep mode. I smacked the space bar as if to violently awaken them.

The monitors would not go back to sleep for the entire workday. At lunchtime, instead of getting out and going somewhere, I leisurely cruised the internet as I ate from my desk. The blessed hour of 5 p.m. eventually came and I returned home to my wife who was preparing dinner with a recipe she was reading from her iPad.

After finishing dinner, my wife asked what I wanted to do for the rest of the evening. I responded by suggesting we just relax and watch a movie or something. Remembering that I was tracking my screen time, I diverted from the movie idea and decided to do some homework instead. The maneuver did not help to reduce my screen time; the assignments I had to complete were all online.

After a few hours of studying on the internet, my eyes grew tired and I decided to turn in for the night. I made one last glance at my phone for emails, text messages and missed calls before flipping off the light switch and using my phone’s screen as a flashlight to navigate my way to the bed.

All in all, approximately nine hours and 45 minutes of my day were spent looking at a screen. Mere observation brought to light the fact that I had spent more than half of my waking hours entranced by digital pixels.

I’m sure there are many like me who would gather similar results. This realization causes me to reconsider my relationship with electronic devices. It is difficult to postulate what the long-term physiological and psychological effects of screen satiation are, but it is not hard to feel the benefit of unplugging—even if just for an hour. The next step in this experiment is to experience a screen “blackout” for one whole day. What do you think? Could you do it? Set a date and see how long you last!

Ryan Ulrich

WSU Student – Accounting


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