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26% of Americans are almost always online, according to new research
If you check your phone in the middle of the night, it says something about you.
A new Pew Research Center poll conducted this past January finds that 26% of Americans are “almost constantly” online. That’s up 4% since 2015. Unsurprisingly, younger people were the most prone. Around 39% of 18- to 29-year-olds were almost always online. That number has risen 3% since 2015. Interestingly, 30- to 49-year-olds were almost as likely to be glued to their screens as millennials. Of Gen Xers, 35% said they were constantly online.
A huge 77% of American adults go online daily, while 43% are on several times per day. Only 11% of adults said they didn’t use the internet at all. This rapid rise in near constant use has been attributed to the pervasiveness of smartphones.
Last November, electronics insurer Asurion completed a study that found that the average American checks their phone every 12 minutes, or about 80 times per day. Many respondents struggled to go just 10 minutes without looking at their phone, Asurion researchers said. According to a survey by Qualtrics and Accel, millennials check their phones even more often: 150 times per day on average.
Other groups constantly online include black adults, college-educated adults, those from higher-income households, and who live in urban and suburban settings. According to Pew, 37% of African Americans used the internet constantly, compared with 30% of Hispanics and 23% of whites. Hispanics saw the largest climb in constant use, 11 points since 2015, while constant use among whites remained static.
Credit: Pew Research Center.
So what are the implications? Studies have shown that those who are constantly connected are more stressed, feel lonelier, and are more likely to experience depression or a sleep disorder. A 2015 University of Missouri study found that regular use of social media platforms increased the likelihood of envy and depression.
In the Asurion survey, 31% of respondents felt separation anxiety when they couldn’t check their phone, while 60% were stressed when their phone was off, charging, or out of reach. Most millennials don’t go any more than five hours without checking their phone, according to the Qualtrics and Accel study, which can be considered addictive behavior. Half of all millennials in that investigation actually checked their phone in the middle of the night.
San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge goes one step further. In her book iGen, she claims ubiquitous smartphone use has ruined a generation. According to Twenge, everyone born after 1995 is on the "brink of a mental-health crisis." Other psychologists say it’s a chicken-and-egg thing: is it that distress pushes adolescents towards their phones or is constant smartphone use causing distress?
Though it’s not considered intrinsically harmful, those who stay online for a substantial period of time are far more likely to develop Internet addiction disorder also known as internet addiction or internet compulsion. It’s important to note that most of the studies on extreme internet usage focus on adolescents, though as the Pew poll points out, adults of all ages are now spending a substantial amount of time online.
Millennials and Gen Xers are the most likely to report near constant internet use. Credit: Getty Images.
Some studies find that compulsive internet behavior and mental health problems may be mutually reinforcing. So does this mean that if you use the internet compulsively, you have an issue? Not necessarily. So far, the connection between compulsive internet use and having a psychiatric disorder is modest at best. Also, our smartphones were made to be addictive. They were modeled at least in part after the slot machine.
The important thing here is dosage, as the eminent writer David Foster Wallace once said. His reasoning was that such devices aren’t offered by those who love us, but who want money, which in this model is earned by placing the right ads in front of you as often as possible. The best thing to do then, for the sake of your own mental health, is to limit exposure.
Consider turning your phone off and putting it in a drawer for certain hours of the day, and allow those closest to you other means, such as a landline, to contact you in case of emergency. Also, social media and online interactions should never trump real, offline ones. If you find yourself wasting too much time online, get up and talk to a coworker, schedule coffee with a friend or a friendly acquaintance, or just take a walk and stretch your legs. If you can be conscious of your internet use and carefully consider dosage, chances are, you’ll be more productive and happier too.
To learn more about internet addiction, click here.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.