How much time do you spend every day in front of a screen? And how does that compare to the time you spend in front of a real person? Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University found that having few face-to-face interactions nearly doubled the risk of depression in older adults. They concluded that there are significant mental health benefits from regular face-to-face interactions versus emails and even phone calls. This study supports the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s emotional well-being, and that the type of communication makes a difference.
We are consumed with technology, seeking to be entertained or distracted by information, reality TV, and superficial connections. The people living in our homes, neighborhood, church, and/or community are strangers, but the world we experience through the screen consumes most of our spare time. Typically screen time requires very little physical activity and occurs while we are seated; it’s no wonder the obesity rate in America has steadily risen. So why do we prefer to connect through a machine rather than through face to face interaction?
Our society has become lazy and apathetic. We’d rather let others give us answers than think about possible solutions on our own and test them out. We’re losing our critical thinking ability, creativity, and resilience since we seek answers rather than test hypotheses. I’m suggesting that we need to get back to challenging our mental and physical capacity and make the effort to connect more with people. One way to achieve this challenge is to cut off all of your power to your electronics for two hours every weekend and use the time to engage in physical activities, board/card games, stimulating conversations, and/or generate goals/vision for your future. Maybe make it more challenging by turning off all the circuit breakers to your home (except essential ones such as air conditioning or the refrigerator) and challenge yourself to engage in activities outside of the box. Greater connection happens when we interact face-to-face. Make your personal connections a daily occurrence!