The Screens of Our Time: On “Time” – Implications for Screen Time Research

The Screens of Our Time: On “Time” – Implications for Screen Time Research

Mikael Wiberg (Umeå University, Sweden) and Britt Wiberg (Umeå University, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8163-5.ch006
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Despite the increasing interest in understanding screen time and its effects, there are very few papers published on how the notion of “screen time” is conceptualized – both in terms of what “time” refers to in this context and in terms of what a “screen” denotes nowadays. In an attempt to contribute to this lack of theoretical grounding, the authors outline four theoretical grounds for understanding time. Further, they suggest that the notion of “screen” needs to be problematized in similar ways. In this chapter, the authors illustrate how the four different conceptualizations of “time” in relation to this broader understanding of screens open up for a new range of studies of “screen time,” and they suggest that this conceptualization is necessary in order to move toward.
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Main Focus Of The Chapter

In relation to the need for a more elaborated view on ´screen time´, the authors review the current literature on ‘screen time’. A point of departure for the literature review are concepts like the ‘time’, ‘screens’ and ‘screen time‘ in order to find examples of studies of screen time. Based on these studies the authors suggest a model for further explorations of ‘screen time’ that takes into account not only time spent in front of a screen, but also 1) if the time spent is in an ‘active’ or ‘passive’ mode of watching; 2) if it is time spent in front of one screen or across multiple screens; 3) if it concerns prolonged watching (binge watching) or if it is a series of short watches over a longer period of time; and 4) if the activity that the watcher is focused on demands of her/his continuous attention. To address these different aspects of “screen time” the authors constructed a model with a basis in four different theoretical grounds for understanding time; including biological time, psychological time, social time and cultural time.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Screens: Refers to computer displays (i.e., any piece of digital technology with a screen) that can display information (ranging from mobile phones, tablets, laptop computers, and computers, to television).

Clock Time: Refers to the hour on the timepiece and what it governs (e.g., the beginning and the ending of activities which is most common in Western countries). On the opposite is event time, which predominates a scheduling determined by ongoing activities. Events begin and end when, by mutual consensus, participants “feel” the time is right. The distinction between clock time and event time is profound.

Psychological Time: Is a highly complex notion that constitutes a wealth of concepts. Several processes in temporal aspects can be noticed in everyday life for people learned to represent real objects in a symbolic world; e.g. time use, pace of life, time perception and time orientation. Also some other concepts have been used such as individual time styles (time related individual differences) and sense of time (time related experiences).

Social Time: Is a social construction and have different meanings attributed to events in calendrical time in the social world. Social time may be regarded as an orientation tool, which refers to a relative framework and is constructed by norms, beliefs, the customs, and practices of individuals and groups.

Cultural Time: Deals with cross-cultural similarities and differences in using digital technology with a display in everyday life (ranging from the use of mobile phones, tablets, laptop computers, and computers, to the watching of television) and via the use of app’s (health, well-being, transportations, games, and so on). People from different cultures have different views of time or the way persons deal with time. Events may occur on regular basis or on-off-basis (e.g., tourist events and sports events). Different cultures have different time horizons, which refer to the length of the planning horizon and the length of time a person uses to think about the past or the future.

Biological Time: Refers to human beings as biological clocks, including real and synchronized processes such as cycles, spirals, circadian rhythms, oscillations and oscillatory processes, which are of central importance for human functioning and linear to sustain life. The biological basis of preferences for morning activity patterns (“early birds”) or evening activity patterns (“night owls”) explains the variations in the rhythmic expression of biological or behavioral human patterns.

Time: Human beings refer to different perspectives of time and these different perspectives apply to different levels of human nature. In this chapter we present four different theoretical accounts of time including; biological time, psychological time, social time, and cultural time.

Screen Time: Refers to a demarcated period of time during which an individual is using digital technology with a display in our everyday lives.

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