Sedated by the Screen: Social Use of Time in the Age of Mediated Acceleration

Sedated by the Screen: Social Use of Time in the Age of Mediated Acceleration

Lídia Oliveira (University of Aveiro, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8163-5.ch001
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The social use of time has been progressively affected by the presence of screen devices in people's daily lives. These devices are of various types: television, tablet, computer, smartphones, etc. However, all of these have a power of seduction that makes people want to use them. In reality, a significant part of tasks are mediated by screens, whether they are playful tasks, socializing, work or training. In this chapter, the authors reflect on some quasi-paradoxical situations triggered by screen time, which shows that one is sedated by the screen. Then, they present the results of a systematic review of the literature focused on the concept of “screen time,” which shows that the excessive use of the screen is causing various health problems, especially in children and young people. And, the results of two empirical studies are presented, one with young people between 12 and 18 years old, and the other with university students. The results of both studies demonstrate the need to develop competences in the management of the social use of time, that is, to develop time literacy.
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The densification of events, information and images makes it impossible to delay. The rapid chaining of fragments leaves no room for contemplative delay. The images that pass fleetingly on the retina, fail to capture lasting attention. Propagates their force of attraction and fade away. (Han, 2016b, 55)

Time is a fundamental element of the organization of individual life and collective life. Societies are organized according to time rituals, whether religious or profane. There continues to be a circularity dimension of the present tense in the repetition of the daily, weekly, monthly and annual cycle. As if the mythical circular time had remained forgotten within the calendars. This circularity allows organizing the routines and establishing predictable cycles. However, in the last century social time underwent a strong acceleration process (H. Adams, 2005) (Rosa, 2013a) (Torres, 2016). This social acceleration was essentially produced / driven by the development of transport technologies. First of transporting people and goods and then transporting streams of various kinds (information flows, energy flows, financial flows, etc.), which becomes an acceleration of social life and the generation of dynamics of alienation (Rosa, 2013b).

The social use of time was modified according to individual objectives and social, cultural and economic dynamics. And these depending on available resources, namely, technological resources. The contemporary context is characterized by an exponential proliferation of digital information and communication technologies, storage, treatment and sharing of information in volume, variety and speed never before existing, which contaminates all psychosocial, political, cultural and economic routines.

The objective of this essay is the time in screen society (Cardoso, 2013), the era of hyperconnection (Oliveira & Baldi, 2014) and hyperconsumption (Lypovetsky, 2007), which leads to screen culture (Ana Melro & Oliveira, 2017). Screen time in a paradoxical society in which social acceleration is a central element, but where people are sedated by the screens, remaining for many hours consuming and / or sharing content, socializing and / or working online or performing tasks in which the screen plays a crucial role.

In a society where the tendency is to spend more and more hours online looking at a screen, which assumes the role of mediation access to information and relationships, it is crucial to understand what role this screen-time plays in people's lives. What consequences does the increase of occupation of time with the consumption and relationship mediated by the screen have? There will be screen time to cannibalize other types of time (Oliveira, 2017) - time to walk, time to cook, date, participate, study, etc. Considering the lack of time reported by a significant amount of people and what has been called the time pressure, which consists in the person feeling unable to do everything he has to do in the time he has available, we are led to conclude that there are new variables that consume time. In addition, the telepresence in which being connected makes the individual feel permanently pressured to respond to requests online (Barber & Santuzzi, 2016). Paradoxically, today's societies are the ones that have the most facilitators of everyday dynamics, cars, washing machines and dishwashers, piped water systems, ovens, stoves, etc. - which apparently saves time, which means people should have more time available, but the general complaint is lack of time.

The initial thesis is that the time spent on the screens (television, tablet, smartphone and computers) intensifies the use of time, making people never having “in-between times”, that is, free time between tasks or displacements because the person has the smartphone and with it saturates your time, it fills. In such a way the screen-time is full, that leads individuals and societies to a state of sedation - society sedated by screens.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hyperconnection: The permanent and excessive use of internet services/social networks. The act of being permanently online and the feeling of absolute need to have an Internet connection, felt by the individuals; who have symptoms of stress due to the fact that they do not have an internet connection.

Screen Time: The time individuals spend interacting with screens. Being that this interaction can have diverse purposes: to have fun, to socialize, to study and/or to work.

Sedation: A psycho-physical state in which the individual is alienated from the context in which he or she is and presents a low level of self-awareness.

Alienation: Act and effect of detaching itself from the real and being suspended from the surrounding reality. The alienation promoted by the screen time causes the individual to shift their attention from the material context in which they find themselves, to a virtual context in which they interact in the pursuit of fruition.

Sreenlife/Onlife: Lifestyle overly dependent on online interaction, which characterizes contemporary society in which a significant part of the activities are carried out through the connection to the Internet network.

Paradox: An ambivalent situation, in which, after all, what appears to be evident finally contains its quasi-opposite.

Social Use of Time: Time is a fundamental existential resource. All use of time realized by humans is a social use, since time acquires meaning in the social context, where each individual inserts itself. All uses of time are social, from bedtime, to hygiene, to work, to dating, to studying, to having fun, etc. The way time is used is clearly marked by each person's socio-economic and psycho-social context.

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