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In less than the span of a single childhood, Americans have merged with their machines, staring at a screen for at least eight hours a day, more time than we spend on any other activity including sleeping.
Teens fit some seven hours of screen time into the average school day; 11, if you count time spent multitasking on several devices.
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It is creating a whole new mental environment, a digital state of nature where the human mind becomes a spinning instrument panel, and few people will survive unscathed.“This is an issue as important and unprecedented as climate change,” says Susan Greenfield, a pharmacology professor at Oxford University who is working on a book about how digital culture is rewiring us—and not for the better.
Now smartphones outnumber the old models in America, and more than a third of users get online before getting out of bed.
The Web wasn’t made “to keep track of how much people like us,” he thought, and when his own tech habits made him feel like “a genius, an addict, or a megalomaniac,” he unplugged for days, believing, as the humorist Andy Borowitz put it in a tweet that Russell tagged as a favorite, “it’s important to turn off our computers and do things in the real world.”But this past March Russell struggled to turn off anything.
He forwarded a link to “Kony 2012,” his deeply personal Web documentary about the African warlord Joseph Kony.
In the summer of 1996, seven young researchers at MIT blurred the lines between man and computer, living simultaneously in the physical and virtual worlds.
They carried keyboards in their pockets, radio-transmitters in their backpacks, and a clip-on screen in front of their eyes.