By Joseph Shaw
Imagine, for a second, a trip to the GP in the 2029. You scan your microchip to identify yourself, there are no receptionists, they’ve been replaced by the Doc-Bot-3000. Your GP is still a human though, hopefully..
You begin listing your problems: “I’m having trouble sleeping, as soon as my head touches the pillow I can’t stop thinking, am I living my life the best I can be? Did I offend anyone at work today? No one invited me out for a drink afterwards, I know they went though, I saw it on Instagram”.
Your GP retorts: “These symptoms have been on the rise in the last decade, we have had success in treating them with a phone app that regulates your social media usage based on your GP’s prescription..how long do you spend on facebook and instagram a day?”
“…not long… maybe 5 hours all told?”
“Ok… you know that the recommended dosage is one-and-a-half hours per day? I will be prescribing you two hours with a goal of weening you down to one-and-a-half in the near future”
Welcome back to the present day, this isn’t a reality just yet but I predict and somewhat hope that it will be (apart from the robotic receptionist and the microchip, I’m vehemently anti those but that’s something for a later post). Now yes, this does sound like the stuff of dystopian nightmares and I can almost hear the conservative, libertarian types shouting out:
“THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO LIMIT SOMEONE’S USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA, J.S MILL WOULD BE TURNING IN HIS GRAVE”
I somewhat agree, I’m no supporter of overreaching governments or minimum alcohol pricing laws or the sugar tax. But something has to be done about the inability of most youths to cope for a minute without their phones and constant connectivity to peers. This Christmas just gone my little cousin decided to not partake in the annual cousins monopoly game and instead opted to send repeated selfies on Snapchat to his friends to plan the “New Years Sesh”. Upon my request he went to the app on his phone that monitored his screen time per day; it was 6 hours. A quarter of his day.
It has become clear that social media is having all manner of negative effects on the young with suicides occurring as a result of social media addiction and lack of regulation of content. The government are due to confirm today that current voluntary regulations for social media companies have not been effective. They will now be forced to remove possibly harmful content on self-harm, depression and anxiety among other things.
For me, this is a step in the right direction. I am not advocating overall censorship of the internet but what about a section for young people like you see on Netflix? Maybe greater advice for parents on how to minimise the screen-time of their children and spending less of their own time glued to screens in front of their children.
If you made it this far thank you for reading, I’ll jump off my soapbox and use twitter to promote this half-baked blog post.