INSIDE MOBILE: Watch the Time You Spend Looking at TV, Computer, Smartphone, Tablet Screens

Apple's iPad introduction should get us all thinking about the amount of time we spend looking at electronic screens such as TV, computer, smartphone or tablet screens. There's something important to consider here: Be concerned about the time you spend looking at electronic screens. As Knowledge Center mobile and wireless analyst J. Gerry Purdy advises here, make sure that the time you spend looking at electronic screens is balanced with the time you spend interacting with other people and with the world in which we live.


With the Apple iPad, we will have four major electronic screens with which most of us today interact: TV, computer, phone and tablet. There are additional electronic screens outside the home such as movie theater screens, sports stadium screens and electronic billboards. Gaming consoles also typically use a TV screen. Many of us spend a couple of hours watching broadcast TV in the evening and, more frequently, this experience is done using a digital video recorder (DVR) such as Tivo. Children and some young adults are reported to spend 6 to 8 hours a day watching TV (including games using Wii and other game consoles).

We could argue if this is right or wrong, but it's important to note that, as we get older, we typically spend a lot of our waking time (that is, many hours) looking at electronic screens. And as we become teenagers, there's a massive time shift in which the phone (and, in particularly, time spent texting) replaces the TV as the primary screen. Research reports that some teenagers spend more time texting than talking with family and friends. And, some teens send in excess of 6,000 text messages per month-that's over 200 per day. (More on what I believe is a responsible way to teach our children about the appropriate way to use electronics screens will be discussed at the closing of this column).

The computer enters the scene during preteen years primarily due to playing games on the family computer or using a game console. Often, older siblings will "drive" the game while younger siblings become passengers. The younger siblings become proficient very quickly when they get time to use the controller since they have had strong peer training from their older siblings.

Also around the ages of 10 to 13, school work progressively takes more time, which continues as the student moves from high school into college. This is where time spent on the computer grows to many hours a day. When the person leaves college and enters the workforce, the time most people spend using a business computer is anywhere from four to as much as eight or more hours a day.

I think it's safe to say that from the time a child gets his or her first cell phone through adult age, most college-educated people end up spending many hours-up to as much as 10 to 14 hours a day-interacting with different electronic screens.