I thought that social media couldn’t become any larger a part of our lives, but after a year of intense lockdowns and with staying at home becoming the norm, I was wrong. UK citizens spent 46% more time on their phones since July 2020. Children have spent the majority of the day on screens because of online school. In a year in which life was turned upside down, the pressures of the internet have really come to the fore.
Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in addiction, particularly among students. This is likely to be because of social media, which has rapidly become such a huge part of our lives. At Oxford, for example, we have relied on Teams for our classes, Canvas for our lectures, Instagram and WhatsApp for keeping up with our friends and Facebook for everything and anything else.
The findings of a recent study by King’s College London involving 1,043 students (ages 18-30) showed that 38.9% of participants had symptoms of addiction to their smartphone. The study also found that nearly 70% of addicts faced sleeping problems compared to 57% of non-addicts. Interestingly, younger students were more likely to be addicted.
While these statistics may come across as shocking, my initial reaction was surprise at the number being as low as 40%. However, the lower number is probably due to the study’s sample which included students aged up to 30, many of whom may not be such avid users of social media. Nevertheless, the fact that smartphone addiction is becoming more and more of a problem among students is something that we should not ignore. While I cannot imagine a lockdown without Netflix or the distractions of Instagram, avoiding excessive smartphone usage is something we should all consider as we come out of this third lockdown. Perhaps we will all leave our phones behind us as we spend more and more time making up the lost time socialising and enjoying more freedom. Part of me doubts this will be the case, but only time will tell.
Image Credits: Iona Shen