Teens Aren’t the Only Addicts…So are a Few Seniors

A couple of months ago, I saw the post below and I thought it was quite true. In recent days, I’ve been pondering just which “generation” the image is talking about. Sure, teens are featured here and we usually refer to them and young adults when talking about excessive phone use. But recently, I watched a senior citizen use social media with the addiction of a 15-year old.
I was sitting at a NHL game, which was a real privilege to be enjoying the game with my son and husband. Our son had surprised us with tickets the day he arrived home for spring break.

Seated directly in front of me, one row down was a grey haired man with a few friends. He was wearing a hockey jersey, so I assumed he must be a devout hockey fan who would really be into the game like the rest of us.

Instead of watching the game, he watched his cell phone…placing it in and out of his jeans pocket no less than 30 times during the course of the 3-hour game (or at least it’s my best guess). At first, I thought it was great that he must be giving friends game updates, or maybe texting with his grandkids(?) about the game. Perhaps it was because he actually bothered to put the phone back into his jeans pocket every. single. time. after using it for a minute that I was really distracted when the puck was on our end of the ice. Arena seats are tight after all, and you can’t help but notice each other’s business. The dude’s shoulders nearly touched my knees.

Every time my eyes followed the puck back down our way, the guy’s fingers were perusing Snapchat and Instagram. Sending Snaps. Liking posts. Again and again and again. The speed of his fingers scrolling…the dexterity…really quite impressive! I couldn’t tell you what was being snapped or sent or liked. I wasn’t looking for the details. I just noticed a blur of constant motion involving the phone.

Of course there was plenty of time that I was engrossed in the game or chatting with my son and wasn’t stalking the guy’s phone use. But when the continuous shifting of his body to put the phone back away did distract me, the above image of teens documenting their happenings came to mind more than once.

I did a quick internet search of technology and phone use for adults 65 and over. This not-so-official research focused upon “the best cell phones for seniors” and “best apps for older people”. I think the youngins writing the articles need to start hanging out with us 50yr olds and definitely the 65 and over crowd before writing their next post. The half-century and over demographic is using many of the same apps and cell phones as the millennials.

I caught a few minutes of a news segment recently where a 73-year old grandmother asked her daughter-in-law how she could stay more connected to her grandchildren who were now in their teens. The daughter-in-law told her to text daily and get on social media. The woman was crazy about her grandkids and was happy to go upgrade her phone to accommodate her new apps.

I’m the first in a conversation to promote “old school” things like real books with touchable pages. I’m all about sitting together and playing actual games, not connecting on game apps via my phone. But, for those of us who’ve been around this planet awhile, we can’t deny that there has been a tectonic shift requiring some form of technology in virtually every aspect of human existence. We might initially balk at the changes and vow to “disconnect”, but even the most die-hard anti-technology people I know have joyfully embraced digital cameras and tossed film. They’ve also been forced to purchase ovens and washing machines with all-digital headboards. Even if we avoid constant technology in our personal life, working almost anywhere demands software proficiency.

The next time I’m tempted to give a bad rap to the young adults whose phones might as well be an additional limb, I’ll no doubt think of the hockey guy and remind myself that no demographic is completely excluded from our virtual attachment.

Photo is found in multiple locations online so photo credit goes to the Internet at large. Click image for one of the many locations.

Are We Really “Off” on a Snow Day☃️…Weekend😎…Vacation🌴?

Does a true day “off” necessitate no phone use? How about if I don’t use social media but still text throughout the day? Am I resting? Having fun? Keeping my body healthy? I asked myself these questions and if I’m being honest, a true day off for me would mean no phone and no computer. Both keep my head down, body sedentary and don’t permit real conversation. I like keeping my head up, prefer to be active and love good conversation.

The reality is, we work on computers and even if we don’t use social media, phones connect us to our loved ones and are useful in emergencies. They are also dang handy for taking notes and making lists.

We all know how phones decrease our attention span, provide a false sense of accomplishment after scrolling (similar to having completed an actual task), and that screens are literally engineered to keep us looking. Yet, we have trouble putting them down.

With 23 states engulfed in brutal cold this week, it led to countless school and company closings. What I observed in my frozen little corner of the universe were several people granted a “day off” by their employer (not a “work from home” day) but still received texts about nonsense that really could have waited until we were plowed out. We’re not talking about organ transplant surgery or even a customer really needing assistance. We’re talking about useless, unproductive texting that forced more than one person to be on their phones all day. Without cell phones, employers wouldn’t feel as comfortable calling via a land line 12 times in five hours.

I knew of a few children who spent three straight days gaming and teens who remained couch bound, attached to their social media. No board games, books, conversation nor baking cookies. Instead, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and so on fully consumed their days “off”.

“And it turns out that Americans check their work emails just as often as they do social media even while on vacation. The average American will check their work emails, Facebook, and Instagram nine times a day as they soak up the sun.” Source.

Research has proven social isolation, addiction, decreased attention span/inability to focus, and increased sadness are associated with media use. But, it’s not only the social media and constant distraction that hurts us. (And by “us” I mean adults, not only kids and teenagers.)

General cell phone use has been researched and subsequently led scientists to report, “adverse health effects of using mobile phones including changes in brain activity, reaction times, and sleep patterns”. (Source) Could it be related to the “minimal amount” of radiofrequency radiation emitting from our devices? For every claim that they cause no or little physical harm, there is another story claiming they do.

Snow days, vacation and days off work used to be openings for creating life memories-not watching what everyone else was doing. They tended to promote “healthier” days. If we allow it, electronics rob us of those much-needed breaks and real joys.

I’m going to periodically use my phone on days off, but I’m not attached. I crave tech-free time. I’m going to make a concerted effort to have snow days that are phone-free fun – like they were when the kids were little. I have plenty of my own ideas, but if you need some, (HGTV has a list of “Adult Snow Days” ideas.)

Having been drawn into studying this topic a bit this week, I’m going into this weekend only using my phone for communication with the kids. This way, I believe it will truly be time “off”!

But first, I need to close this lap top…

Happy Weekend to all!!