Brits will spend over 3 years updating social media, 12 months down the pub and 235 days waiting in a queue over the course of an adult lifetime, with it all summed up in front of us its easy to see what actually makes up our adult lifetime. We caught up with Social Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman to comment on this new reserch and give us insight into how we spend our time and what it means for us as a nation.
So tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I'm Dr Becky Spelman, I'm a registered Psychologist. I work in central London on Harley St. I'm also a TV and media Psychologist so I frequently bring information about Psychology to the public in the form of articles, radio interviews and TV.
Can you give us some more information on this project conducted by Samsung?
This interesting research by Samsung to launch the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch looked at exactly how we spend our time across our lifetime. The study looked at how much of our time we are spending on areas such social media, watching TV, laughing, showing affection and several other areas that we dedicate a lot of time to. The research uncovered some fascinating findings and identified various different trends across the UK. We now know that we spend 17 years and 41 days sleeping but only 1 day and 6 hours crying on average across our life time. I love both sleep and crying (as it's good way to release emotions) so I'm sure I probably do more of both of these than the average person.
What influence does social media have on our time?
When social media first came out it was mainly just for adding friends and sharing pictures so it was quite a basic concept compared to what it is today. Now social media has expanded to such a vast level, we can catch up on the news, connect with both friends and business colleagues, we can share content that we have created and we can use it for work and travel inspiration. So, with all these options it's understandable that we are spending more and more time on social media and I think the average amount of time spent on this over a lifetime is going to continue to increase even more.
Do you think that the way we spend our time on social media is useful to our development?
Social media has done wonders for staying connected with loved ones, we can get a lot of enjoyment out of social media and it can be productive as well. It can be interactive, and informative and a way of sharing, so much so that it's quite hard to imagine a world without it. Personally, I love social media, the key is finding the types of social media that are right for you and making sure you are using it to enhance your life rather than being distracted by it and allowing it to be too time consuming.
Is there a generation gap in the way we make the most of our time?
There is a huge generational difference in the way that we use our time. The under 40's are the generation of being "always on", which basically means they are multi-tasking across multiple devices. Of course people who are over 40 are less likely to do this because they have had this range of technology available for less of their lifetime, so in general the younger generation use their time in very different ways than the over 40s. There can be benefits to being able to multi-task across various devices but obviously, this can also cause distraction and hinder attention span for some people. Certainly though, the way we spend our time has changed greatly due to technology. I can see such a contrast between when I was younger and we had one TV screen between 6 of us, which me and my brothers used to constantly fight over. Now each person has multiple screens to themselves, there are no more screen custody wars, however I am sure there are now wars in households between parents and children regarding the amount of screens they're tuned in to. So, the message is keep the balance right and enjoy this great technology without overdoing it.
Are there positives to being part of the 'always on generation'?
There are positives to being part of this always on generation, the key is to find the technology that's right for you that makes your life easier. I personally find a lot of the monitoring apps really beneficial. I love to monitor my nutrition and the macronutrients such as proteins, carbs and fats as I like to get the right balance. I also like to monitor my sleep and water intake and I've found very easy ways to monitor these using smart watches like the Gear S3 that have become very quick and automated. It really helps me live a balanced and healthy lifestyle as I have a busy schedule. I also like to monitor things like exercise and I love that I can now do this with ease, without this monitoring technology I could never engage in this level of keeping track. I love the science of tuning in to my body in terms of what I am doing and setting very specific goals. Monitoring fitness and wellbeing variables closely in a far quicker and more precise way than ever before. I am proud to be a gadget geek and love what's currently available in terms of tracking and monitoring.
Obviously it's not just social media that makes the clock tick away, what else can fill the hours?
It's not just social media that makes the clock tick away and we certainly fill our time with many other things, it was interesting to see in the Samsung research that there were different trends across different areas of the country. However nationwide watching TV is certainly still a very popular activity (8 years and 110 days watching TV), we also spend a lot of time being affectionate with our partners (13 months being affectionate with partners), I particularly love this one as being positive towards your partner is such an important factor in keeping your relationship healthy. Sleep (17 years and 41 days sleeping) was also a fair dose of time and so it should be as it's so important for peoples' wellbeing. Laughing (8 months and 2 weeks laughing) was also something that we do a lot of, a healthy dose of this is also great for our wellbeing.
Do you have any tips to utilise our time?
The best tip I have for utilising time is scheduling. And indulging in the ingredients which this research has proven to be the keys to happiness (laughing, sleeping, exercising etc). I have an acronym for this which is ACE - A bit of Achievement on a daily basis, a bit of Closeness to others and a bit of Enjoyment. If you can get that balance right and you are ticking those boxes on a daily basis you will be able to keep a good mood balance. Remember you are far more likely to do the things that you write down, so ensure to note the things that you specifically want to be part of your schedule.
How can we avoid burning out due to always being switched on?
Burn out is a big risk of being part of this always on generation. For instance, as soon as someone experiences a little bit of insomnia they have a tendency to grab their phone to kill some time rather than working on becoming more relaxed and switch off in order to rest. Discipline is key here, setting positive sleep hygiene, having some rules for your life such as a wind down period in the evening and making sure that you get breaks from technology. It's all about balance in terms of having an ideal routine. Try to spot bad habits as soon as you can and make small behavioural changes to rectify it and get yourself back on track again.
Finally what is next for you?
For me a very exciting thing that I am working on is writing my first book, I can't name the topic or title just yet but I am very excited about releasing my first popular Psychology self-help title and this with the British public so more info on this soon.
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