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Book Review: ‘Screen Time’ by Becca Caddy

2020 had been a difficult year for a lot of us and we still feel its repercussions as they come in phases. Among all other things, one aspect it has reveled to us is that a major part of our daily life (now more than ever before) consists of our reliance on screens. We have been spending a lot more time with all kinds of screens, post the shift to a ‘work from home’ environment. We use screens for work, for entertainment, to stay in touch with family and friends and anything else that you might think of. Feeling overwhelmed with excessive use of technology has become a common phenomenon, as has been digital fatigue (or even burnouts, in extreme cases).

Adjusting to this new situation has been difficult since the boundaries between personal and professional became virtually nonexistent, but it is still not impossible to strike a balance between the two. This is where Becca Caddy’s book, ‘Screen Time’ comes in. This book came to me when I too was making this grand shift, quite overwhelmed in the process, and it has been quite helpful.

‘Screen Time: How to make peace with your devices and find your techquilibrium’ is exactly what you would expect from the title. The book talks about how to maintain balance. Finding balance in a world that constantly keeps moving towards new technology can be tricky at times but it is nothing unachievable. ‘Screen Time’ explores some of the more basic problems that technology brings us in much detail and provides practical solutions for each of the ones that it discusses. The author, for example, does not recommend going off of social media completely and back to the stone age to achieve mental peace, which is quite impractical, but rather encourages the readers to restrict the apps or sites (and even themselves) in some way so that social media does not control our lives as much. The point of the book is to make the readers aware that even though technology has taken over every single aspect of our lives, we can choose to limit our interaction with these devices and lead peaceful lives alongside it.

The author, being a tech reviewer, has done a considerable amount of research in the field, which she uses along with her experience, in order to prove and impress her points. The author has done a great job with the research and the citations that went into the book. She has gone beyond her topic at some places as she refers to multiple productivity books that have been quite popular in recent years and takes certain materials from them, as required to clarify the concepts that she talks about. This makes the book much easier to read and understand for somebody who is not very well versed with technology but is well acquainted with self-help and productivity books. The checklists present at the end of each chapter add to the ease and it even helps add to the fact that the book runs like a manual. You keep coming back to it as you put things into practice.

The book, however, lacks quite a bit in the stylistic aspects which are an integral part of any written document, in my opinion. The language used here is just too casual and there are quite a lot of syntactical errors throughout the book. The former might not be a problem for the demographic group that the book is directed towards but I found it a bit unsettling, personally. From the point of view of the target audience of the book, however, I would say that it discusses the problems in much more detail than the solutions and it could be a lot better if the reverse was the case. Also, the author tells you to use apps to replace other apps a good number of times which, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of it all.

My personal experience with the book, however, was quite good. Although I already put a lot of the solutions that Becca Caddy provides in her book to use, the book helped me know that I am actually on the right track. I did learn many new terms that are constantly used in the digital world from the book that might just come in handy in future. Also, following what the author said made me less judgemental of the people online which saves me a lot of stress.

So taking all the aspects that I have discussed into account, it is safe to say that ‘Screen Time’ is indeed an important book for every one of us who have made it through 2020. We must understand the difference between technology making things easier for us and us using technology to make things easier for ourselves and this book definitely helps.

Thank you, HarperCollins India, for the review copy!

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