The average person checks their (sic) phone every six-and-a-half minutes a day. One in four of us admits to spending longer online each day than we do asleep, while 73 percent say that we would struggle to go the whole day without our phones or computers… By the age of seven, the average British child born today will have spent an entire year of his or her life made up of 24 hour days, in front of a screen… 70 percent of those aged 16-24 say they prefer to text rather than talk…(while) a Canadian study revealed that the average teenager sends 3,400 electronic messages a month from their (sic) beds… The result is cognitive disorders and mood disorders during the day.
So reports The London Daily Telegraph, and while I cannot vouch for the data in America, something about it rings true. The author, a mother of two small girls, has declared digital devices off limits on Sundays. The value for children is obvious, particularly with adult guidance and group fun – the author’s family loves Scrabble. But this is also a start for adults who want to boost their own brain power and revivify their own imagination.
So, if you are fastidious about New Year’s Resolutions, before the first week runs out choose a day per week to switch off your electronics. Then plan other activities for the day, since Nature abhors a vacuum and you will too.
The options are, um, life itself in all of its fullness. Books to read silently or aloud; art in books or in museums or to create at the kitchen table; cooking and eating; playing a musical instrument or listening to someone else; going to church, and so on. Plan ahead, so that the day becomes full and, once one gets over the shock of electronic disconnection, the various joys loom ahead like courses on a banquet menu. If you have guests, warn them beforehand and perhaps let them indulge electronically in a side room if they must.
But planning may include solitude, not only for reading but for reflection. The Nine Classical Muses don’t shout, nor does the Holy Spirit. Their whispers are best heard in solitude, and minute-by-minute interruptions such as Twitter are the diametrical opposites. So leave part of your special day for loved ones, part for feeding your own imagination, and part for giving it a solitude work-out.
Try it and you may crave more than one day a week – a young father madly in love with his wife and new son now ignores emails for the full weekend, from after work on Fridays to Monday mornings. It doesn’t seem to have hurt his career any: he tells me that he’s just been made a partner in his US$ 100 million firm!