Pulp Magic

JUNE 28, 2018

Choose Paper Time over Screen Time

Is social media ruining our lives? People are beginning to think so.

As a parent, I’m concerned when I see so many young people engaged on their phones and disengaged from the world around them. And it turns out, those kids are just as concerned as I am.

According to a survey by Two Sides, a graphic communications industry group, most young Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 think they spend too much time on their electronic devices and equal numbers are concerned that time spent staring at a flickering screen could be damaging their health.

More and more research is corroborating that feeling.

It’s not surprising, given how important social media sites like Instagram and Facebook are for teens and their social standing, that overusing those sites could have consequences for their mental health and self-esteem.

A study published in March in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, calls the quest for online popularity, “digital status seeking” and warns that teenage status seekers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors later on than their peers who are less engaged in social media.

Last year, Harvard Business Review published an interesting study showing that the more time adults spend on Facebook, the less happy they are. Facebook usage correlated with “reductions in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.”

And this is consistent with our own research showing most people feel it’s important to take a break from digital devices, because being “plugged in” all the time is unhealthy.

Turning off the devices would be a good thing. But how about swapping the device for a magazine, newspaper or book? Get creative in a journal or on a notepad. Color to relax. Play a board game with family or friends. Better yet, have a conversation in person or by phone rather than a text. These would all be better things and paper helps you do many of them best. For all the negative research on the harm done by electronic devices, there is a growing body of evidence showing the very positive effects of reading words on paper or playing board games in three dimensions.

The Two Sides study found that printed words in magazines, books, and newspapers is the preferred choice for recreational reading by a large margin. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed believe reading a real book with a cover and pages is more enjoyable than reading a book on an electronic device.

Information on paper is more trustworthy too. In an era of “fake news”, only about a third of people believe the news they read online while well over half believe what they read in a newspaper.

So what does this mean for the paper industry?

I think it’s a great opportunity to seize the moment and remind parents that paper offers learning and recreational alternatives that stimulate young brains in ways that engage their creativity and builds their self-esteem.