When critics argue that 'endless scrolling' consumes too much of our time, I reflect on the profound integration of mobile phones and digital devices in our daily lives – from parent chats to my son's accelerated learning.
While some warn of digital overindulgence, the real question emerges: Is it about the hours we spend – or how we spend them?
I recently received a debate article from The Gothenburg Post titled "Endless scrolling is turning a whole generation into mental couch potatoes." It's a fear-mongering article that questions the constant scrolling, and the writer wonders where 17 hours a week – that is, 2.5 hours a day – of personal mobile consumption goes.
Firstly, I find it a bit amusing and worth noting that I received the article in a parental group chat on my mobile phone, which was created for parents to exchange information and stay in touch with the best interests of their children in mind. Secondly, I read the article on the mobile, noted my reflections on the mobile, and then formulated the basis for this article on the mobile.
For my part, I do a whole lot of things on the mobile that I rarely even think to use snail mail (physical letters) for, or even the computer. I make shopping lists on the mobile, I shop for food using apps on the mobile – both weekly groceries and spontaneous restaurant purchases – I read the weekly letters from the teacher on the mobile, I volunteer for children's activities on the mobile, I read work emails, read news, do research, access analyses, stay in touch with family and friends, take memorable photos, book play dates, book events, note activities in the calendar, and even plan my workouts. On. The. Mobile.
Upon closer reflection, it is a miracle that this person in the article only spends 17 hours a week on the mobile, and I might even become a bit worried. Can this person really complete all of the week's essential tasks with so little time on the mobile? On second thought, I may check in and message this person on the mobile to see if they're okay.
Regarding children's use of digital tools, I wholeheartedly believe it's essential to offer children opportunities to adapt to the future they are facing.
Thanks to digital devices, my son is eight years old and has already learned programming and to write and speak in English. I decided early that I wanted to encourage his digital learning, and he has transitioned from using a Nintendo Switch to a mobile phone, to VR glasses, to a gaming computer. Now, he quickly and easily learns English vocabulary when he gets homework from school. The other day, he spoke with a foreign peer from the UK through a VR game – in English. Who would I have been to deprive him of those experiences when I had the opportunity to offer them to him?
One hobby he has right now is making YouTube videos in English, where he shows and teaches other children about various types of video games. Because few kids his age have the same tools and are as advanced as him in tech, connecting with other children over the internet allows him to meet others who share his interests and have progressed as much as he has in the areas he's passionate about.
Some say that humans have already become a hybrid, where the mobile phone is an extension of each individual. It's healthy to be able to put digital tools aside. But there might also be a risk in denying the opportunity to be an adapted hybrid when facing the future. Whether you consume news and read it on a mobile, computer, or in a physical newspaper, it should be fine.
The danger isn't in having access to technology. The interesting question is: What do we use the technology for?
What do you think?
What are your thoughts? When does digital usage become excessive?