How many hours have you already spent looking at a screen today? Nowadays, the universal answer to this question seems to be “too much.” As the internet becomes more deeply ingrained in every aspect of our lives, it gets trickier and trickier to find responsible ways of engaging with the online world without getting lost in it. This issue became even more challenging for many people during the pandemic. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, for example, found that young people now spend an average of 7.7 hours of their daily free time in front of screens – twice as much as they did pre-COVID. Why is the internet so wickedly tempting, and how can we establish healthier digital habits?
In the middle of a Covid-19 lockdown packed with distance learning difficulties, teachers at the Schmalkalden Elementary School in Thuringia, Germany, learned that the digital tool they had been using didn’t meet the country’s strict data-privacy restrictions. “A parent at the school asked whether I could develop a program from scratch over the weekend,” said Mathias Wickenhagen, a 20-year-old programmer in the neighborhood. “And I did.”