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Take an occasional online break

July 5, 2019
by Mark Ollig

We know spending too much time on the internet is not necessarily a good thing.

Of course, who wants to miss any of the latest happenings occurring on our favorite social media networks?

Each day, we find ourselves immersed in social media apps (applications), including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

Some of us are also text chatting over live-streaming video sites, such as Periscope.

We are spending less time talking, and more time screen texting with friends and family.

This is obvious while visiting any coffee house; two or more people sitting at a table are sipping their cafè lattes while texting on their smartphones.

Of course, back in the day, we would stare at the television screen for hours until one of our parents would say, “You’ve been watching too much TV. Go outside for awhile.”

So, we went outside to breathe the fresh air, walk under the maple trees to downtown, or meet up with friends to ride our bikes. Sometimes, we’d play some basketball.

If enough neighborhood kids got together, we would start up a baseball game.

Needless to say, today’s young people still go outside; but now they take the “television” (online social media) screens with them in their pockets.

The frequent typing and staring at a screen can reduce the quality time we could be spending on other activities at home and at work.

We find ourselves frequently responding to a text message, or social media comment.

Not keeping up-to-date with a favorite social media site will even give some smartphone users feelings of nervousness.

Too much online screen time can lead to mental fatigue and anxiety, which zaps our productivity.

In October 2019, Pew Research reported teenagers spent an average of nine hours a day looking at a computing screen, which is a lot of time staring at a screen.

I wondered how much time I was spending looking at my smartphone screen, so I looked for an app program to keep track and show me the numbers. I felt this would help put things into better perspective regarding my online time.

From the Google Play website, I installed Usage Time. This app manages and monitors the apps used on a smartphone.

Usage Time is currently being used on more than 100,000 smartphones.

The app allows me to check at a glance the amount of time I spent using a particular social media app, such as Twitter or Facebook, along with apps like AccuWeather, Microsoft Word, and shopping apps.

Its easy-to-read screen shows the number of individual social media and other apps, and the amount of time they are used, during a 24-hour period.

Usage Time also displays the total time spent on your smartphone for telephone calls each day.

You can set time limits allowed for using selected apps, too.

The memory size of the Usage Time app is 4MB. It was last updated for the Android operating system June 29. The app is free; however, if you don’t want to see the ads, you can upgrade to the premium version for $1.99.

We have come to the point where taking a break from the screen, whether it is on a television, computer, or a smartphone, is becoming a necessity.

This phrase is being seen a lot on social networks these days: “I need to take a break.”

Of course, those of us online understand, and will give a pass to the person who has reached their online texting and screen-staring limit.

After having spent some quality offline time, the person usually returns with an enthusiastic “I’m back!” and picks up where they left off with a renewed energy while posting new stories and comments.

How many hours do you spend online conversing, tweeting, or chatting on social networks each day?

Checking my Usage App over the last two days, I spent, on average, five hours per day on the social media, apps, and websites I frequently use (not counting my eight hours at work).

We are, after all, human – unless you’re a software bot. When you reach that point of needing a break from the online world, just do it and don’t feel guilty about it.

We need to be aware and set aside more time to disconnect and recharge after prolonged periods of staring at the screen.

Many in the virtual communities we belong to are empathetic, reassuring, and understating when it comes to taking a break from social media.

In fact, right now, I am going to take a break from typing on this computer screen.

I’m going outside to breathe some fresh air, observe the birds flying, look at the green grass, and enjoy those tall, majestic pine trees.

Heck, I might even play some basketball.


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