Screen times for all age groups are skyrocketing with Gen Z leading the pack, spending hours and hours at a time staring at smartphones and computer screens.
According to statistics from Cross River Therapy’s research, Gen Z averages a whopping 9 hours of screen time per day. In comparison, the average American spends about 7 hours on screens per day, about 7 minutes more than the global average.
Some might expect that the US might have the highest average but it isn’t even close. South Africa tops the world with an astonishing 10 hours and 46 minutes per day. Tech companies love this trend as it’s only making them more money but it’s actively harming swathes of the global population.
A large portion of most people’s screen time is now on mobile devices. According to Data.ai, consumers in the top 10 ‘most-mobile’ markets (including Indonesia, Brazil, and the US) spent 5.5 hours on mobile apps per day in Q1 2023. Watching TV (including streaming) is another top use of screen time around the world.
Is Excessive Screen Time Really That Bad?
Overusing phones and other devices is almost a cliche now because it is so ubiquitous. Perhaps because it is so common, many people don’t recognize or internalize the consequences of staring at screens all day.
One of the most acute consequences of excessive screen time is trouble sleeping. Bright lights reduce the production of the chemical in your brain that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep called melatonin. This is why you shouldn’t be on your computer or phone right before bed.
It can also induce mood changes. Scientists haven’t had a chance to study the connection between screen time and mood enough yet but some early studies have found that excessive screen time can cause depression symptoms.
Using devices too much can also make you entirely reliant on them, causing immense anxiety whenever you don’t have them.
Too much mobile device and computer usage can be harmful to anyone but it affects kids and teens the most, who are also more likely to rank higher in daily screen times.
A Brightspot survey of 888 K-12 teachers found that about 80% of teachers believe that increased screen time worsens their behavior.
The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, the largest long-term brain development and child health study in the US, found that excessive screen time seems to physically slow the growth of the Cortex portion of the brains of adolescents.
The exact consequences of a thinner Cortex aren’t well understood but they can’t be good. The Cortex is an outer portion of the brain that processes information. It’s easy to see why a smaller Cortex could be life-changing.
While these skyrocketing screen times for Gen Z and younger generations are terrifying, at least most parents in the US seem to realize that it is a potential problem. A Pew Research Center poll found that 71% of parents are concerned that their kids may spend too much time on screens and 61% asked doctors or other medical experts for information on the subject.
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