There’s loads of literature out there urging people today to get off their computers (those handheld iPhones count), and out into the world. Your grandparents might argue that staring at a computer is rotting your brain. The first lady might say that it’s stealing time away from being active for our children. You might even recognize the brain fry in yourself – that numbed, dazed feeling you get after playing a few too many rounds of candy crush. Now a recent study completed at the Technology Policy Institute in DC has quantified exactly what people are missing out on when they spend time surfing the internet, chatting online, or using computers for non-work leisure (e.g., iPhone games). Here’s what you’re missing out on when you’re scrolling through your facebook feed for the 20th time today.
Of the five hours the average American has for any leisure time in a given day, surprisingly only an average of 13 minutes is spent online during those leisure hours. However, in each minute that people spend using a computer for leisure, they sacrifice leisure time in several specific areas. There was 16 fewer seconds worked, 7 fewer seconds spent sleeping, 6 fewer seconds experiencing travel, 4 fewer seconds completing chores, and 3 fewer seconds educating themselves. If you up the amount of time spent on the computer for leisure, the amount of time stolen from other activities increases. It also tends to cut back on the amount of leisure time you have to socialize off line (read: face to face with your friends). So next time you feel like aimlessly cruising the internet in your free time, think about that activities you’re giving up, and decide if it’s really worth the trade off.