The Mindset You Need for Spending Time Online
We are in a time of digital dependency. Now more than ever, our lives are being lived through the lens of digital technology. The last 10 years saw massive technology change, adoption and invention to the average consumer, and the next 10 years will see even more.
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers.
- People are spending an average of 24 hours a week online, twice as much as 10 years ago (Source)
- 92% of Americans are internet users (Source)
- 64% of adults say the internet is an essential part of their life (Source)
- In 2019, it is expected that smartphone usage will surpass TV usage (Source)
- 73% of teenagers own a smartphone (Source)
Why are we spending so much time online?
Spending time online is rising dramatically because that’s where life is happening. This happened steadily over the last 20-30 years. The reason for this is technological and social.
The more power squeezed into processing chips, the faster and more effective the devices and hardware we use have become. Better software runs on these machines, giving us more capabilities than before to interact with computers and devices. Technology has simplified and connected our lives in this way.
With these advanced devices, the amount of data being created, stored and shared online grows exponentially each year. Let’s take emails as an example: More connectivity means more emails, and more people on the internet means even more connectivity and even more emails!
There are social reasons for this transition. It is becoming an expectation that we need to be online, whether it is for social reasons or for career reasons. We have made a clear transition online.
Now that we are online, there is so much to do and consume, that we stay online. The online world is definitely here, and it’s here to stay.
The Internet Gives Us Endless Choices
It is not an exaggeration that you can find almost anything online. The web is filled with content for anything social, work-related, and hobby related. In every niche, you can find something connected to your search. The Internet is connecting us to information and ideas that were inaccessible to previous generations.
This is what makes online a place people want to be. The internet and search engines are amazing for this reason as it has created a web of connection and content that is sourced for our use. Being online is convenient, simple and abundant in scale.
The New pressures
But these new technologies are creating new pressures to deal with.
On social media, there is a need to fit in and be active online. Trends are awesome and cool, but they can seem overly important. By scrolling through social media, we are looking at a highlight real most of the time, creating the need to be a certain person and act in a certain way.
People are also hiding behind their screens to become people they would never be face-to-face. After Team Canada lost their quarter-final match to Finland in the most recent World Junior Hockey Championships, the team captain was cyber-bullied and threatened. People can put on these masks and become these heroes they would never be in person.
There is also so much information to process. Websites are filled with content. Now that our eyes are on our screens, advertising money is increasingly making its way to advertise online. Advertising is the primary revenue stream for Google and Facebook, for example, making the average search and the average scroll through our emails filled with a data overload.
The New Apple Screen-Use Tracker
In the last iOS update (Apple’s operating system), Apple introduced a screen time report to track phone usage. Overuse is clearly a problem Apple wanted to address with this update.
Apple is providing the average user with more awareness of their habits and usage. They are taking a stance on their users’ well-being which is a very positive sign. It will surely help those who are overusing their devices.
This points out a bigger problem that there are proven negative consequences from using our phones or being online too much, problems that a lot of people are not even aware of. But is the rise of technology all bad?
Leveling the Playing Field
The online world is helping to make information more accessible, and this is definitely the case in the educational space. The rise of self-educations with the power of the internet is enormous. Universities are also expanding to offer more courses, degrees, and classes online to make education more accessible to the masses.
The boundaries are officially being lowered. No longer does it matter where you live or how much money you make to access the same information that was once in privilege to those who were born with favorable circumstances.
Beyond the learning experiences, there is a tremendous opportunity to connect with people, places, and experiences around the world. This is just one industry that is being transformed.
The Rise of Social Media
A shift in dynamics from traditional media sources to social media is growing and will continue to evolve. It has democratized the information that is available and it is the people using the platforms that will determine the trends and what’s hot.
5 years ago it was Facebook, 3 years ago it was Twitter, today it is Instagram. The platforms we use will continue to change and evolve.
The world of marketing is changing as well for businesses and social marketing has evolved. Branding is becoming less one-way and more two-way. Personal value is increasingly more important for a brand. Ad spend helps, but the message a brand conveys is becoming increasingly more important.
The Rise of Ecommerce
Another area that is being transformed is the shopping experience. The ease and convenience of shopping online through a secure internet connection has led to an absolute explosion for the ecommerce industry. Ecommerce is dominated by the giants Amazon and Alibaba, but are giving smaller players around the world an equal opportunity to sell their products to a global market.
From Black Friday and Cyber Monday to Singles Day in China, retailers are beating their single-day sales records each year. And with better security, the taboo of shopping online is gone and shopping online has turned into the norm.
Selling online is another example of how the internet and new technologies like smartphones have created a new platform for sales with a larger reach and greater selections of products. Technology is not only transforming new industries, but it is also creating new ones.
The Rise of Esports
Esports is one of the hottest trends today thanks to the rise of technology and the rise of the internet. The popularity, attention, and viewership of video gaming have increased dramatically in the last few years. There are some people saying that the popularity for Esports will soon exceed that of professional sports leagues.
A whole new industry is being created right now. There are new game companies, video game teams, and leagues around the world that are showcasing the best gamers.
The reason why I mention this is because the video game industry is now a new and growing industry that will only become bigger. The internet will create fields and jobs that we never thought were possible before. This is an example of a new online business opportunity.
Overuse of the Internet and the Importance of Disconnecting
The problem with all these great things is that people are feeling the need to spend too much time on it! It can take children away from real-world experiences, and it can keep adults in constant work-mode, even on weekends and holidays.
It can also have negative health impacts through over-use. The rate of obesity and sleeplessness have been connected to the rise of screen time. Simply put, it can mean less time outside in the world with family and friends, and more time inside in a virtual world.
It is not only physical health that is important. Our mental health can be easily neglected as well. The benchmark of living a healthy life is often not being considered, or are being forgotten when it comes to time on-screen.
Millennials and Generation Z are growing up with technology as their normal. If we thought technology was prevalent today, it will only become even more. What is ‘normal’ for online use has changed since 10 years ago, and will change even more in the next 10.
Although the internet and online world is providing us with more opportunities, it is also creating more distractions. The difference in how we choose to use it comes down to mindset. The way we engage with technologies are ultimately a demonstration of our personal beliefs and values we hold about our worlds.
Stay in your lane and have the self-awareness to know who you are. Understand who you are, what you like, what you don’t, what works for you and what doesn’t. Knowing this, you will be able to jump on all the abundant opportunities that online life has to offer, all while handling the side effects of technology in a safe and healthy way.
What is important here is what we do with technology – will we use it for the better, or will we let it control us?