I saw a story today with the headline "Dad Dies in Front of Children as Wife Films Attempt at Viral Trend: 'She Recorded His Death'"
The guy who died was attempting to copy a TikTok challenge where you get in a boat going at a high rate of speed, and jump off the side of the boat. Under normal circumstances, most people would think it crazy to attempt such a stupid and dangerous stunt. But we live in a world where the lines between reality and fantasy have been blurred. The blurring is happening for two reasons. First, technology and AI is so advanced that fake images and videos are almost impossible to detect. Secondly, because people are glued to their cell phones, they are highly influenced by everything they see - be it fake or real.
Statistics say that Americans spend an average of six and a half hours a day online. That's about a third of the time a person is awake. Of that time, about two and a half hours are spent on social media. Mobile devices are checked 159 times a day. Just about all of us, young and old, won't go anywhere without our phone close at hand. Women- especially young women, are often seen with the phone literally in their hand everywhere they go - and I do mean everywhere! (Young boys can be just as bad, but they seem to use pockets more.)
On top of that, traffic deaths due to phone use while driving are skyrocketing. Kids barely know how to talk to each other in person anymore. All of this can be traced to one thing – cell phones.
In addition to the fakery in images and videos, social media is a web of written lies. One study showed of 2,000 people, more than 75% admitted to lying about themselves on social profiles. Only 18% said that their Twitter and Facebook profiles accurately represent them.
We don't need scientific studies to tell us that cell phones and social media are addicting – and it's not just kids. Adults are equally affected. I will admit, I have also fallen victim to this destructive device – despite my dislike of social media, and awareness of the dangers. I used to be an avid book and newsletter reader. Prior to a few weeks ago, I hadn't picked up a paper publication of any kind in over a year. I got to a point where I read or listened to everything from my phone - and it was affecting me in a negative way - both mentally and physically. It would be one thing if the information garnered was accurate and valuable, helping you develop your mind. But it is mostly garbage with a high level of falsities!
Now don't get me wrong, a cell phone can be a very useful tool. For business, or efficient communication, it is very powerful. But letting it go beyond that is a risk that has potential consequences that can literally be life-threatening – as the story that I mentioned at the beginning of this article shows.
Now you might say there is no way you could be that stupid to let it go that far, but can you say that about your kids also? Do you even know what they are viewing online and for how many hours per day. I doubt it. Are you willing to risk their mental health because society says we all need to have these devices glued to our hands all day, every day?
There is only one solution, and that is to turn off the phone. Get it out of your and your kids' hands as much as possible. Limit their use of it to VERY short periods of time each day. Block social media if you can. Limit your own personal use.
Make no mistake; it is an addiction as powerful as drugs or alcohol. Your kids will resist. You will find it challenging. But future happiness is at stake. And getting off the phone will give you one thing that will be a pleasant surprise. You will have all sorts of added free time. Use that time to do something productive. I recently followed my own advice, got back to reading from printed paper, and shut down all social media viewing. It has only been a few weeks, and I am already sleeping better and feeling less mentally stressed. Join me, and I promise you your happiness and well-being will improve.