Teen Space

How much is too much?

Young guy and girl backing each other and busy on social media
Photo: © Maxriesgo / 123RF Stock Photo

How often might you have…

  • checked your mobile phone at the dinner table?
  • looked at your phone while watching a movie or reading a book or during sport?
  • peeked at your phone when you woke up in the middle of the night for any reason?
  • checked your phone first thing in the morning, as soon as you open your eyes?
  • unlocked your phone just to see if there’s a new notification on social media?
  • been upset when you didn’t see enough likes on some social media post of yours?
  • ignored your family or friends because you just needed to be on your phone?
  • feared missing out on something because you didn’t check your notifications?

Numbers don’t lie

Statistics from 2018 show that 1 out of 3 people in the world is active on social media — a vast majority being teenagers. Also, if you’re between 13 and 19 years of age, you are likely to be spending over nine hours of your day on some form of social media. This technically amounts to over a decade of your life, which could have been put to so much better use. Maybe you could have run 2000 marathons in that time and been a lot fitter and stronger! It’s not surprising that 3 out of 4 people in the world sleep next to their mobile phones and every other teen that sleeps with their phone could be sleep deprived. More so if you are one of those teens who do sleep with your phone, you are likely to check your phone 10 times each night! Teenagers who are glued to their devices also tend to bag more frequent diagnoses of anxiety or depression. And undoubtedly perform poorly in academics.

Not so easy to believe

As a teenager all these numbers might seem hard to digest. You might believe this could happen to others and isn’t happening to you. But reality is starker than you imagine. Or rather want to accept. The oldest teenager of 2019 is a classic millennial, born in 2000, unaware of a life without a mobile phone. Thankfully teens of today are unexposed to deadly diseases like small pox but we have deadlier ones surfacing — like social media addiction. Certainly this platform makes room for connectivity and shrinks the world allowing us to access people worldwide, more cultural diversity and relationship opportunities. Also, those with social awkwardness use social media as a stepping-stone to communicate openly on a secure platform. But its adverse effects are not surprising.

Inability to connect with real people

The secure and masked social platform makes it easy to hide our real faces. With ample opportunity to put our best foot forward using the finest profile picture and penultimate pre-planned words, we begin to feel more confident of our looks and communication abilities. We filter what we want to convey and spend time on appearing to be better than our real selves.

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Dr Shefali Batra is a Psychiatrist and Mindfulness Coach. Connect with her on Instagram @drshefalibatra and read more about her work at drshefalibatra.com.

Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra is a Psychiatrist and Mindfulness Coach. Connect with her on Instagram @drshefalibatra and read more about her work at drshefalibatra.com.