‘Screen Time’ Is Over

The phrase can’t remotely capture our ever-shifting digital experience, social scientists say. Say hello to the “screenome.”

Comments: 68

  1. My internet went down last night, I was surprised how fidgety I was while I could not get online. I am going to start practicing the digital sabbath...as soon as I am done checking my email....

  2. I used to perform in small clubs with my guitar, but I gave it up out of disgust. I was opening in a tiny place where the only people to attend were the other three performers. They sat about ten feet away from me as I sang. None of them watched or listened. All of them were dee into texting on their phones. I played for about ten minutes, then abruptly stopped, and put my guitar away. One of them looked up and said, "Can you keep playing? My friends aren't here yet." I shook my head and walked away. That was it. Performing for cell phones isn't my idea of a genuine experience. Last week I watched a four year old child standing at a crosswalk. The sign read "WALK" and I give credit to the four year old for reading it. Unfortunately, her mother wasn't paying any attention to the situation because she was texting on her phone. The little girl tugged and tugged at her mother's elbow trying to get her to see it was safe to cross. Once the sign started to blink, "DON'T WALK" the mom looked up, grabbed the child's hand and ran across the street. Way to go mom. I see people in cars on their phones. On dates where both of them are on their phones. In grocery lines on their phones. Needless to say, I have a cheap $35 flip phone I got in a drug store. I don't always carry it. I don't text. I don't really care if someone can't get ahold of me in an immediate sense. Frankly, what on earth is happening to our culture that these things literally endanger people and nobody cares?

  3. @Michael Kennedy I feel the same way and have learned to accept it as the article states "screen time is no mere habit but now a way of life." I can't control when others use their phones, and refuse to let that bug me. I surely control when I use mine, though, in a mostly limited way in public.

  4. @Michael Kennedy Well, the idiots are winning.

  5. @Michael Kennedy We see a lot of things when we are hooked into reality that is not a virtual one. There is something about our collective unconscious that tugs at me in relationship with too much screen time. Neuroscience is something I love to know about and so is the unknown depth of the psyche. I think screen time appeals to more than we know. It could be our newer collective unconscious. Ouch!

  6. "screenome" sounds clunky. How about "screenosphere"?

  7. Excellent thought-provoking article! But I must disagree with the conclusion reached in final paragraph. Asking how much screen time is too much REMAINS a valid question. Investigating patterns of activity, and asking whether they are problematic, supplements rather than replaces the original question. Please keep reporting, Mr. Carey!

  8. @W. H. Post I disagree. If patterns of usage show a problem, then that is to be addressed. It is way more effective to advise someone that their patterns are disruptive than to make a judgment telling that they are on their devices too much. Telling someone they are using devices too much is to at all helpful, it does not convey any useful information other than a judgment.

  9. Not to mention that, as in the picture, people are consuming more energy, hastening climate change, just to live worse lives. The iphone was sold as a convenience, and has become an essential.

  10. @scientella The iPhone was initially supposed to enhance, rather than be life.

  11. I have been on extended sailing trips of several weeks to months, in areas where internet access was at best spotty and often simply non-existent (or simply too expensive to use). I noticed a pattern. First, I would desperately try to connect whenever possible. Second, I later started accepting constant internet access was not feasible or affordable, and I would fall into a pattern of having designated times to be online at bars with free WiFi to perform specific tasks (i.e. email, finances, social media, downloading issues of magazines/newspapers to read offline). Third, I started putting my phone away most of the day as it was not often of much use (and could get wet). Fourth, I simply turned my phone off and did not even take it to bars to access WiFi. At that point, I sometimes felt liberated. Feelings of missing out, getting behind on activities dubiously considered work, always updating social media and fishing for clicks et cetera, that all withered away. I had time and the opportunity to focus on something else besides the never ending inputs and distractions provided by being constantly connected. I actually read books cover to cover... because I wanted to. I went swimming to distract myself and pass the time, rather than flip through Instagram or check and recheck news sites. I learned to fish. Do I want to completely disconnect from life? No. There are obvious benefits to being connected. But how much we are connected is the problem.

  12. @David Agreed, but finding the balance is very difficult. Especially when you use your phone for a task and find yourself, 10 minutes later, doing something completely unrelated and wondering how you got there.

  13. I have increased my screen time, specifically on my phone, over the past few months, and I notice I feel increasingly agitated and needy with regards to checking it. I usually take a 24-hour "screen sabbath" on the weekends, but lately have been fudging that time. All this is making me think about a month or two off except for emergency phone calls...

  14. I totally agree with the premise of the article. Other people may be different, but for me screen time is only stressful for me if it results in online interaction. I used to be much more bound to my phone and constantly want to check it and interact with it. I recently cut out most email and all social-media posting from my schedule. I'll check my email once in the morning, once in the evening. I'll browse facebook/twitter, but I no longer make posts. Also, any games I play are single-player. I think my brain is easily hijacked by imperatives to impress others, and by cutting out that interaction online I've found doing things on my phone or computer to be entirely relaxing. I can put away my phone or computer for a day or while I watch something on Netflix and I won't have any twinge of FOMO or desire to context-switch. On a normal day I might spend 12-14 hours on a screen, but it no longer has the stress inducing ambivalence that it used to.

  15. I remember back to the early 2000s when I first heard the term "crackberry" to describe a Blackberry phone and thought it was so funny. People who had a Blackberry were addicted, and would stare at them or interrupt conversations to check them when they vibrated. I would never have guessed that Blackberry users were our canary in the coal mine. Now we all have our own crackberry and it's not funny at all. These devices are destroying our attention spans, our social relationships, our ability to read books, our ability to get work or assignments completed, and our ability to live in the present moment and enjoy what's in front of us, like a sunset or a conversation or time with our children. People will never again be bored, but so many creative ideas come from boredom. A few months ago my son, a 6th grader, and all of his classmates were given Chromebooks with the idea that technology is good, and all kids will benefit from technology. But instead the kids used them to play games and watch Youtube videos. Yes, they blocked adult sites, but the school didn't realized that they gave my child a crackberry that I then had to police by hiding it away after he completed his homework. I wonder if other parents noticed. I'm in the tech industry, but I am seriously worried about what technology is doing to all of us. We need to treat our collective addiction to technology as a serious issue now and not wait until it's too late. Parents, keep your kids away from it as long as you can.

  16. @Chadness, and, ironically, people who still use a Blackberry Bold are now considered luddites because all it does reliably is phone calls; e-mail; and texting, instead of apps and video, etc. But it does have a removable and replaceable battery and fit easily in a pocket! :)

  17. I got as far as the first sentence of this article, at which point the subtitle had gotten me thinking the likely gist was probably something really fundamentally important epoch-wise that my kids should read. So I clicked away to share it with them on their phones. Then I went to click on something else. I'm sure I'll come back and actually read the article later. I didn't even close the window or anything...

  18. Hilariously true. I was one of those folks camping out in line for the newest iPhone/iPad years back. Now I veer between seeing the effect of this tech as a plague and trying to use it for the positives it does afford (reading).

  19. I'm old: almost 80. so I grew up without screen time: no TV in our house until I was 16. I do love my internet and phone stuff. BUT I don't look at computer until evening. Then I read a little news (We don't watch TV), And then stream something fun from Britbox: great service: love the Chelsea Garden Show!!. My phone is for texting family and friends, managing my calendar, using the timer when watering plants, making appointments etc. Once in a while for a serious conversation. And yes, I read books cover to cover with great enjoyment. My recommendation: if you really want to slow down and feel good find Sandburg's biography of Abraham Lincoln. You'l love it. You are basically in a warm bath of Lincoln's heart. Six volumes.

  20. Four years ago, I started using the Freedom app and admitted that I could probably go to college in the amount of time that I spend on my phone. I’ve been taking classes ever since. I’ve deleted Facebook and use the Freedom app often. Still, I wish I used it less. I work in a restaurant, and when I try to put plates down, everyone has their phones on the table. There is barely room for the dishes. You’re with your friends! Girls want selfies and don’t understand when I tell them that people in the background don’t want to be in your photos. They tell me that they don’t mind if people are in their photos’s background. They really don’t get it. When we have live music, people want to video the musicians. Who cares about your video? Just stop talking, listen to the music and be in the moment. I would love it if our restaurant required cell phones to be put away.

  21. @Pat - Your comment about the girls and the selfies reminded me of something that happened just a couple of days ago. I was on the train, which was insanely packed, and a guy a few seats up suddenly turned around and took a photo of the crowd. I'm sure he immediately posted it or sent it to someone. I was absolutely stunned. I wish I'd thought to say something to him. When I am out and about if I see someone taking a photo I will go out of my way to avoid being captured in the picture, but in this situation I was literally trapped. That gentleman had no business whatsoever taking a photo of me and others without our permission.

  22. Future alien archeologists will dig up fossilized human remains from the 21st century to find an entire race staring dumbly into their smartphones on the day they were wiped out by a cataclysmic environmental disaster. "They must have been a race of sheep," the report will conclude.

  23. @Tony Long - When the Big Quake hits Seattle would I be better off if I was staring at a phone or not? Seems the same to me.

  24. If you are not blind -LIFE is a screen! SO your off line (non screen) "Life Screen" genome visual behavior patterns are also essentail for any deep analysis and understanding of patterns of psychosis. What you look at 24/7 (off screen) over long periods of time is probably more impactful than an online "screenome" Are you stimulated by a fair portion of positive aesthetics or looking at the drab or bleak or simply a constant stream of life's repetitive "Blender" of random images? What is the relative impact on your thought processes and subsequent mental states. Maybe online screentime is more stimulating than an offline screennome of BLAH? AND then there's your very OWN genome interacting with all that in trillions of possible emotional and intellectual outcomes. Good Luck!

  25. It's too late. Machines control and monitor the masses. Corporations own your digital genome, not the government.

  26. So... people who are depressed surf the web in ways that are characteristic of depressed people. And those who are compulsive gamblers inevitably surf the web in ways that are characteristic of compulsive gamblers. "Screen time" is an poorly defined variable. Is there any such thing as "magazine time"? Do people who read the New Yorker need to worry that they resemble people who read pornography, in the sense that they both spend hours glued to a magazine?

  27. Back in 1964, Marshall McLuhan warned of the danger of private control of our ubiquitous electronic communication networks, which become extensions of our senses: "The need to use the senses that are available is as insistent as breathing--a fact that makes sense of the urge to keep radio and TV [!] going more or less continuously. The urge to continuous use is quite independent of the 'content'. . . technology is part of our bodies. Electric technology is directly related to our central nervous system . . . . Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to private manipulation, we really don't have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation or like giving the earth's atmosphere to a company as a monopoly." "Understanding Media"

  28. @Red Allover, OTOH, it's thanks to your post electronically here that people who never read the original can now read it and gain this insight.

  29. At Ozzfest in 2001, we were finally to the gate, around a mile from our car. The guy at the gate said my friend couldn't bring his phone into the concert because "it could be used as a weapon." How times change.

  30. I don't use facebook, twitter or social media. Just a pc and a tv. I'm a modern wonder. Do scientists want to study me?

  31. I’m glad to say that I’ve never owned a cell phone (“smartphone”? “feature phone”?). My computer at home is good enough. I love the solitude of walking, the sounds of the day, my reveries (as writer). If you need to contact me, send an email; I’ll see it when I’m home. Or leave a message on my landline. I’ll get back to you promptly, after I get back. That mentality was good enough before 2000. I don’t need to be in instant contact. But on the rare occasions when I should be instantly available, I do lose out. Yet, I can’t recall having really lost out. And I have no problem with robocalls: I keep my landline disconnected, except when I need to make a call or check messages. I can write in peace, read in peace. I do enjoy the comedy of seeing everybody glued to their little screens: at risk of bumping into someone else (if not a wall—or, god forbid, a car in a crosswalk). I wish everyone no harm, in being a techno-lemming. I stream things at home as I please, never needing to be addicted to having my attention possessed when the day is mine.

  32. @gary e. davis you are living in a developed part of the country and enjoy robust landlines. In a lot of the semi developing and developing countries there are no landlines so the cell phone is their only was of communicating. Those in the developed countries with robust terrestrial communications infrastructure cannot image what life is like without that capability.

  33. I love my desktop computer but absolutely refuse to be umbilically attached to my phone -- I rarely take it anywhere. So I hereby volunteer for the 'control group.' Oh, and I never joined Fakebook either.

  34. @Demetroula - I fall in the same category. I usually have my phone on the desk off. I did that after I watched some executive tell Congress that my phone reports back to him 14 times per minute telling him which building I am in and even which floor. That, and the incessant robo-calls plus the late night visitors who buzz me instead of their friends. I am not on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I have one video game called RollerCoaster Tycoon - nothing gets shot:) I spend most of my online time studying recording engineering, Mandarin, Hawaiian, gardening, and chemistry. And I spend the morbid Seattle winters watching documentaries of the pyramids just for the sunshine. There are about 10 t.v. shows that I like to watch but they are usually either in summer hiatus or preempted by yet another Reba McIntyre special of some kind:))

  35. Excuse me but i can't stop laughing at people who go to a concert, film it and miss the whole thing, just so they can "have" it. It's the saddest most hilarious thing i've seen. It is like no one is actually there. Poor phone addicts get to miss life, but they get to hear about and read about it on their 6inch screens. Too bad such a great tool has become a prostitute for the real life. Still can't stop laughing at you, not with you.

  36. @Hal Paris Agreed. I was at a child's birthday party where the mother "directed" the blowing out of the cake candles as she recorded it. She made the child stop and start repeatedly thus destroying any spontaneity or joy that might have actually occurred in the moment, all for a video that no one would ever watch or care about.

  37. I have just joined the NYTimes so I expect my "screenworld" to grow!

  38. @Marilu - I am too embarrassed to admit how much time I spend at the Times:)) But at least I now spend less time at the HuffPost.

  39. It seems really odd to me that, with years of heavy tech use to investigate, we still haven’t determined very clearly how excessive screen use affects children or adults. We tend to hear disclaimers like “not enough time spent to yield a meaningful conclusion.” Uh, c’mon, let’s get some passionate researchers to discover the damage we all know is happening to our brains.

  40. Everything all the time.

  41. I watched yesterday as a father of three ignored his three children as two of them went wild on the subway and one of them cried, non-stop. This is outright child abuse, something I witness every single day. Why bother having kids in the first place if all you're going to do is ignore them because you'd rather play candy crush?!

  42. oh people, ask yourself: of what possible use is information related to the changes your behavior, affect, mood and psychological health caused by your "screenomes"? obviously, information about the ways that your screenomes could be subtly or coercively shaped to change your propensity to buy, to vote, to believe, to conform, or to inflate your selfie sated sense of "well being." the very model that screen time is basically self medication is striking in its bare embrace of the stimulus-control, biofeedback, addiction and dependency models that undergird everything from videogame loot boxes to slot machine soundtracks to online ad clickthroughs to facebook likes to the endless, brainless political ranting about utterly inconsequential issues. well being, indeed. it's even more astonishing to find the author guffaw, "good luck finding a control group." you find the control group by taking away digital devices, just as you find a dieting control group by taking away their fried chicken. think of it: just as scientists are drooling over the possibility that screenomes will unlock the mysteries of your brain, your brain is not even credited with the self control to put the device down and breathe. it's not your well being, but something that rhymes with "more profit" and "herd animal" that beckons corporations on this path. where are we headed, and what do we expect to find when we get there? i always have to ask -- because i still haven't heard an honest answer.

  43. Non-digital experiences (previously called real life) can’t deliver the consistent dopamine hits we’re all addicted to now. It’s one thing to put the phone away during a concert or a conversation, but try just walking from Point A to Point B without looking at it. Reality is sadly rather “boring”/less stimulating than the world in your phone. Like any addictive, reality-altering substance, we have to control our smartphone usage, or it controls us.

  44. @LA I don't experience reality as boring at all - at least in my urban neighborhood or, on the other end of the spectrum, in the natural world. My real world still seems to produce awe-inspiring experiences and surprises that stimulate my curiosity to understand. My digital devices don't come close.

  45. @LA - Fortunately, I don't live in a boring looking city. The architecture never ceases to amaze me and most yards would put Martha Stewart to shame. Then, there are mountain ranges to the east and the west that are gorgeous and on a clear day, I can see Mt. Rainier when I walk to the store. I don't use my phone to read or browse the internet because I hate the tiny type. And everyone knows that I won't text because its soooooo dang slow compared to my keyboard at home. So, either call me or forget it. I have tried listening to music through my phone while walking but it always stops every time I walk too fast or something so I gave up on that quickly. The only apps on my phone right now are a periodic table (I'm studying chemistry online through the library), a compass, and whatever came with the phone. Most of the time, my phone stays home turned off so I don't get non-stop calls from the Marriott Hotel with ads in Mandarin trying to get me to buy something:) But I am a bit of an Amish man. I don't drive or own a car, I push an old reel mower to do the yard, I drag a wagon to the garden center to haul back dirt for the garden, etc. I find my phone so loathsome and frustrating that I am thinking of how to get rid of it and save the money. I don't get a rush from the dang thing just irritation that it won't do what I want it to do:)

  46. What was the world like before we could read? Reading happened over time, but we all...most of us...now read, we look at blocks of letters and our eyes move and we are engaged. But there was plenty O' olden times when we maybe just looked at colors, or sang more or got down to the business of eating. Are our brain's different than our past because we can now read? Will future brains be different because of screens?

  47. Remember when scientists complained about people: 1) watching too much television, 2) reading comic books; 3) listening to record albums; 3) incessantly talking on the phone with their best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend, and 4) reading Playboy magazine? It seems to me we are always being made to feel guilty about not physically spending time with other people, or developing our minds.

  48. We’re in a whole other ballgame/universe now.

  49. @Diane This is very different. The screens go wherever we go so, there's no getting away from them. Humans are having a love affair with screens. It's worse than cigarette smokers because we have thankfully stopped people smoking in many places for health reasons but screens are allowed everywhere and some are addicted to them. When I see a young couple in a restaurant staring at their phone screens rather than talking to each other, that's sad imo. Why would a phone be more important than a dinner companion? Has the phone become the more important companion than other humans?

  50. @Sandi - Yes, seeing people out "together," be it families or romantic partners or just groups of friends, sitting at the same table but each in their own little world, is definitely sad. I don't why they even bother to leave their homes if the only thing they're going to interact with is their phones.

  51. What we look at on our screens makes a difference on the impact that they have on us. However, no matter how we use our screens, there can be too much of a good thing. When our screens interfere with our basic needs, such as for sleep, physical activity, and in-person social interaction, our well-being will begin to take a hit. These needs were shaped by evolution over millions of years, so they aren't going away any time soon. For example, we might enjoy Snapchatting or watching YouTube habitually into the wee hours, but we still need the same amount of sleep as we did thousands of years ago. Similarly, our bodies cannot adapt to the typical American diet, so we now have an obesity epidemic. We don't need to toss away our screens, but we need to learn to use them more mindfully and strategically, or we'll suffer the consequences.

  52. I read newspapers including (obviously) the NYT as well as all of your comments. I read books online. I do research for my profession on line. I am not fond of streaming entertainment on the small screen. I don't play games on line. I FaceTime with family and keep up with long-time friends (we don't use "old") on FaceBook. As with all things deemed dangerous, it is how one uses it that determines its potential for damage. As with all things new, the education component of using the technology lags behind. As with all things, balance will be achieved.

  53. The problem is that technology has been using us, we haven't been using technology. Tragically, we don't yet live in a world in which each of us can thoughtfully define the role we want technology to play in our lives (in entertainment, communication, education etc) and understand what we're potentially losing (cognitively and emotionally) in this bargain. Much of the blame for this has to fall on the academic psychological establishment. They've simply been asleep at the wheel as the most rapid, massive and profound psychological transformation in human history has unfolded over the last 25 years. As a consequence, we don't yet have the understanding to make thoughtful decisions about technology for ourselves, nor do we have the guardrails or techniques in place to save us from the basic human weaknesses and needs so much technology ruthlessly exploits. Hopefully the project referenced in this article will help in some way.

  54. I have to spend my work day in front of my computer screen. I read the news on a screen in the morning and again at night, check email throughout the day on my phone, read a book on my Kindle app at lunch, and spend several hours a week (mostly on the weekends now) watching movies and television. But still, I've started making a conscious effort to reduce my screentime. I no longer do anything on my phone when waiting for or riding buses. I shut down my screen time by around 7:00 at night and spend the time doing yoga, taking walks, and attending to chores. And when I am engaging in screentime, I make a conscious effort to fully engage with one thing. It's not unusual, for instance, for me to spend an hour reading the Times. If I watch a movie, I never split it between more than two viewings, and TV shows I always watch in one sitting. And now that I've stopped reading books on my Kindle when I only have a few minutes (like at the bus stop), I find that I end up enjoying the books much, much more. I think it's fair to say that increased screen time isn't going anywhere, but we really do have control over the quality of our relationship with it. We also have the responsibility to take care of ourselves and not spend so much time online that our health (be it physical or otherwise) starts to suffer.

  55. My kitchen window and yard faces a street that leads to a public park. All day parents with children who are in strollers or walking pass by like a parade. I noticed years ago when cell phones arrived how different the behavior of parents towards their children became as they traveled to the park. I was stunned to see parent after parent on cell phones preoccupied while pushing strollers carrying their babies or toddlers who were screaming for attention but this was completely unnoticed by their parents deep in conversation. While gardening in my yard, I've seen toddlers try to climb out of the stroller while it's being pushed and a parent who doesn't notice because they're on a cell phone. Some are even texting while pushing a stroller! I don't think we'd accept that behavior from a Nanny but some parents do it all the time. Our mail carriers wear bluetooth devices on their ears and are talking while delivering the mail. We get all kinds of mail not addressed to us and so do our neighbors. Mail delivery is a joke around here. You end up delivering the incorrect mail that was put in your box to the right house and so do your neighbors. Clearly, people can become distracted by these devices. The genie is out of the bottle and it's going to take more self-control than I've seen to date, to get a grip on this screen addiction.

  56. The book "Reader Come Home" by the neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf focuses on a different and more dangerous byproduct of too much screen time.It has nothing to do with the content.She points out that from the screen, we get huge doses of information,one way communication, but we have no time to reflect on this information or to think critically about it. Just on to the next subject.This is why so many people addicted to their smart phones only digest the headlines and not the substance or details of what they're reading about.Or,in this case, looking at.Small wonder we are losing our ability to think or that we seem to crave information which results in fearful or angry emotions.I agree that smart phone addiction by the masses is here to stay But..just like driving cars,there are dangers we need to think about.Road rage is an emotion out of control and Facebook has learned to exacerbate our emotions in order to sell whatever they're advertising.Read an actual book once in awhile.You'll be amazed at how different and satisfying that experience is.

  57. @Iamcynic1, . I used to be a big book reader. I was "electrified" in the 1990's when you see could how fascinated so many ppl by the beginnings of the net I'm getting pulled deeper into thelectro-verse. I think some ppls' brains are more susceptible to being electrified .

  58. @Ken Lewis I was the opposite. I bought the first iPhone on the market in 2007.Read everything on an iPad for years.Then I accidentally had to read an actual book.Since that time I buy the book if I really want to understand something...like the Mueller Report for example.I'm not saying screen reading is not useful...emails,texts,pictures of kitties or grandchildren etc.....but is not suited for reflection which takes some time and some distance.

  59. Same here. For years I did nothing but digital reading, including PDFs as well as ebooks. I was excited for the possibilities as an academic because the ability to search is fantastic. However, I do not believe I get as much out of reading on digital devices. Mainly because of the multitasking and inability to focus. It requires immense willpower to stay focused on a device that does anything you could possibly want.

  60. The overwhelming eternal buzz of connectedness keeps the herd from having individual experiences, thoughts, ideas. Resistance is futile. Welcome to the hive mind.

  61. Psychological effects of screen time? A complete inability to articulate anything. They can’t politely ask for what they want or politely and firmly insist on what they need. They really need advanced training in understanding how manipulative the media is.

  62. Not in too distant a future: If you are not on my screen, I don't know you! If I know you only from my screen, do I really know you? Leave me alone. I feel so alone. Welcome to the solipsistic future, now.

  63. "The phrase [screen time] can’t remotely capture our ever-shifting digital experience, social scientists say. Say hello to the 'screenome.'" I have a funny feeling this word may not catch on like wildfire.

  64. I’m self employed and clients invariably contact me by email, not the phone. Or they text me. They called my land line so little that I killed it and went cellphone only. Now, except for doing interviews about the only times I use it as a phone is to order dinner. The rest of the time it is for getting email when I’m not in my office, or maybe summoning an Uber. Oh. I do like GPS, when it’s actually right. I read NYT (and write notes like this) on my tablet. But I’m on a computer 8-10 hours a day, mostly working. My screenome does not make for exciting data. Anyway, all these things are just tools. They do not constitute a life.

  65. The author writes articulately about the underappreciated relationship most of us now have with out connected devices. Reading this essay and the readers' comments reminded me of something a friend shared with me a year ago: "I recently had the good fortune to attend a production of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in New York. It is a long and serious play which, among other things, uses the themes of addiction and denial in telling its story. And so it was with more than a little wonder that I noticed, while stretching my legs during each of the three intermissions during the Sunday matinée that I attended, that the overwhelming majority of the patrons were spending these brief moments not to reflect on the drama they were watching but to check up on their messages and social media. (The woman immediately behind me at one point was chatting with Siri in order to update her social media presence to let the world know she was watching Denzel Washington at what she mistakenly described as the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.)" That message was a factor in my own decision to give up mobile communications altogether. I am now leading a substantially nondigital life (despite my six connected computers). It's a pity that after 21 hours online this article doesn't appear to be destined for the print edition: If the Times wants to find others who are attempting to return to a nondigital life, that is where they are most likely to find them.

  66. I volunteer for the control group. Other than my morning read of this newspaper with my tea, this device is plugged in and lonely, unless I need a recipe for dinner. Out here in the country I have way too much to do to be playing with screens, of any kind.

  67. And we are always eager to reach for the next big thing that will make us even dumber and more shallow. Seriously, I didn't grow up with the internet but I can tell it diminishes attention span and reflective thought. But I think that is already the new normal....