Be mindful of our screen time

Everywhere we go, we are constantly on our mobile phones - on social media, messaging and browsing the Web.

Many of us are addicted to our phones, but do we realise it? This has potentially severe consequences for our society.

Socially, we see relationships weakening as people use their phones even during gatherings.

Creatively, the dull moments when our brain wanders and creates new possibilities are being replaced by the constant inundation of social media and information. We are evolving into incessant consumers, rather than creative contributors.

Physically, we are noticing people crossing the road while looking at their phones. How can we encourage responsible phone usage?

I believe this starts with being mindful of how much time we are spending on our phones.

Apps such as Apple's Moment or Android's QualityTime help greatly in tracking our screen time.

Second, schools can teach students about disciplined phone usage, for example, inculcating habits such as checking the phone just thrice a day, instead of reaching for it every other minute.

Last, we must recognise that by spending so much of our time on our phones, we are neglecting the realities of our world.

For instance, American public speaker Brene Brown has highlighted how people in the service industry become invisible when customers are engrossed in their phones.

I am concerned that in our move to a cashless society, we might end up exacerbating this phone addiction.

In my observation of the cashless drive in China, I have found that phones are no longer simply a device but have become an extension of people.

Our society loses much when we live with our heads constantly bowed over our phones, constantly connected virtually, yet disconnected in reality.

John Lim Le Sheng