The amount of time we’re spending with media is growing. With phones smarter, quicker and more embedded into our lives, we’re now spending 24 hours a week online… checking our phone every 12 minutes (1). But it’s not just new channels that eat up more of our day. Including SVOD services – such as Netflix – the amount of time we’re spending watching TV is now the highest it’s ever been (2). New tech developments only take up more of our time: the introduction of smart speakers, for example, leads to higher radio listening for 71% of users, as it becomes easier to do so (4).

It often feels like media is consuming us, rather than vice versa. So it’s not surprising that over a half of us want a break from the most distracting of all: the phone (3). This month, The Royal Public Health Society urged us to have a “scroll free” September, as research continues to uncover a negative relationship between amount of time online and our (mental) health.

But, we’re the ones consuming all this media – we choose to watch TV, listen to the radio or scroll through the gram. So why do we choose to do what’s apparently bad for us? And is it all bad for us?

Faris Yakob, author of Paid Attention, claims that much like a well-balanced nutritional diet, we should strive for a well-balanced media diet (5). However, just as we are tempted by candy and chocolates over fruit and vegetables, we’re easily distracted by more meaningless but “snackable content”, away from media we want to consume: the podcasts we love, the films we can’t wait to see or the journalism we admire. Brands should remember that in these contexts where audiences consume media they value, these audiences are made more valuable in turn.

And for us, while our time in media is growing, not all of it grows us – so put down that phone, and pick up that book.

1. Ofcom: Communications Market Report 2018
2. ThinkBox: Magic of TV 2018
3. the7stars: The QT: August 2018
4. RadioCentre: Getting Vocal