17 April 2020

Lockdown: are we spending too much time on our screens?

Since the start of the Coronavirus crisis, strict containment measures have changed our norms. Work, entertainment, social lives… With social distancing in force, more and more of our activities and those of our loved ones are happening online. Should we be worried?

 

The lockdown period in France has meant that 62% of French people admit they’re checking their smartphones more than before, according to an Ifop study conducted for the Chinese smartphone manufacturer OPPO. The increase is more marked in younger generations, with 75% of 15-24 year olds spending more time on their phones. Beyond phones, there was already lively discussion before the crisis about whether all digital tools should be rationalised. It seems the lockdown period has ended the screen-time debate: according to an article in the New York Times, “Screens Won”. Should we therefore forget about the reservations we had before the crisis?

 

Have screens become healthier during the lockdown?

For some time, studies have fuelled the debate around the health impacts of screen time on us and on our children. If we believe this article published in the New York Times by two experts in their field, it would seem the health effects are limited… in comparison to the risks posed by the pandemic.

A campaign launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and many gaming companies illustrates this point of view. The joint campaign is astonishing, especially when we know that the gaming industry had largely condemned the WHO decision in 2018 to recognise addiction to video games as a disease.    
 
And yet in the current context, where staying at home is the new normal, the WHO is recommending “playing together but at a distance” through this #PlayApartTogether campaign.

 

Is it still important to disconnect?

For anyone experiencing remote working right now, screen time has exploded. The lines between work and life have blurred. It is therefore even more important to separate off your availability and connection times. Sociologist Caroline Datchary reminded people when responding to readers of Le Monde. “You don’t have to feel guilty about disconnecting from work outside of working hours. On the contrary, by responding during non-working hours, you’re fuelling this communication flow for your colleagues.” So outside of these hours don’t hesitate to play a video game or, better, read a good book!