Jeremy Edge, LPC
Purpose and Screen Use: How Screen Use Impacts Our Purpose & How to Find Purpose
Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Purpose is something we all want in our lives. Purpose is something we believe in or a mindset that keeps us moving towards something meaningful. When we are doing something that’s bigger than ourselves, we have purpose. When we do things for a reason, we have purpose.
Many things get in the way of purpose but a big one is entertainment-based screen use.
Our devices can be a big player in moving us away from a purposeful life. YouTube has over 800 million videos, Netflix has over 2,769 hours of content, and there are around 1,181,019 video games. That’s countless hours of fun and entertainment. While entertainment has its place, many times we can get completely focused on consuming as much content as possible.
When we focus on entertainment-based screen use, we can struggle to have purpose. Here are some ways screens impact purpose.
How Screen Use Impacts Our Purpose
1. Extra Time
Technology helps with work efficiency. We use computers, the internet, and programs to help us accomplish more in less time. As a result, we have more time on our hands. What used to take hours to complete by hand now only takes a few minutes through a program. When there is extra time, we could do meaningful activities like tidy up our home, go for a run, or have a good conversation with a friend. However, many times we choose the easier activity of binge-watching Stranger Things. Again…
Entertainment-based screen use is fun and relaxing but not as meaningful as purposeful activities.
Online videos, content, and video games are fun and has their place. It’s important to unwind and online content can be a way to do it. However, if we consistently choose entertaining content over meaningful activities, we are robbing ourselves from the joy of purpose.
We don’t get the satisfaction of feeling physically and mentally refreshed from exercising. We don’t get the satisfaction of working hard to solve a problem and finding a solution. We don’t experience tranquility after 10 minutes of meditation. Yes, online content is fun and entertaining, but we forfeit the benefits of purpose in the process.
We all know screens distract us, but what do they distract us from? Entertainment—based screen use distracts us from working through difficult emotions and feelings. The more we are distracted from working through hard emotions, the more overwhelmed we become because we never learn to deal with emotions. We learn to cope by going to a screen.
When we distract ourselves when learning something new, we struggle to learn that material. Our brains are wired to learn and retain information with concentrated focus and when we are distracted, we struggle to learn. As a result of not learning new things, we can suffer. In school, if we struggle to learn new concepts, our self-esteem goes down. When our self-esteem is low, we struggle with doing purposeful things around learning because we feel we can’t do it. There might be less purpose in finishing college because you feel you can’t do it.
Ways to Find Purpose in Your Life
If you struggle with having purpose or meaning in your life, here are some tips.
1. Explore Your Passions
The first thing to do is find what naturally motivates you. What is something that you care a lot about. Do you naturally care about helping others, solving a complex problem, or a certain cause? Explore topics that you naturally are passionate and excited about. It’s helpful to talk with family and friends to help you explore areas you are passionate about.
2. Learn About it
Next, find small ways to get involved in areas that are meaningful to you. If you are passionate about video game design, learn as much as you can about it. Search for YouTube videos, articles, and information about gaming design. Explore colleges that have a good video game design program. See what online courses offer certifications for gaming design. Find ways to learn as much as you can about video game design.
3. Challenge Discouraging Thoughts
When you learn what it takes to pursue video game design, it might feel overwhelming. It’s natural for discouraging thoughts to flood our brains like, “This is going to be too hard.” Or “I’ll never be able do all that work.” Or “It’s going to take to much time. I’ll never get it done.” We need to challenge those thoughts if we are going to pursue a life filled with purpose and meaning.
Here are a few steps to challenge discouraging thoughts.
Find positive objective facts from your past that argues against that negative or discouraging thought. If your discouraging thought is, “This is too hard.” Identify where you’ve done hard things in the past. Have you passed a hard class? Completed a big project? Passed high school? Those things are difficult and if you’ve completed hard things in your past, you can do hard things in the future. Like getting a degree in video game design.
The key here is use positive objective facts. It’s not helpful to make up something positive about yourself. Use the actual positive things you’ve experienced in your life. That will be more meaningful and impactful than lying to yourself.
Practice challenging discouraging thoughts. The more we get into the habit of identifying and challenge discouraging thoughts, the more confident and positive we will be. This just takes time and practice. Practice challenging any negative or discouraging thought at least once a day.
4. Pursue Your Passion
Once you’ve challenged discouraging thinking, pursue your purposeful activity. Go to school, start the course or get involved in some way with what you’re passionate about. Even if you volunteer or do the activity without pay, it gives you experience and the benefits of doing something meaningful.
We all can struggle with finding purpose and meaning in our lives. Entertainment-based screen use is one of many things keeping us from pursuing purpose. If you would like help finding purpose in your life, reach out to Daniel Echols, LPC at Escapingthe.com. As an ordained minister and leader of the Dallas-based Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous 12-step group, Daniel is a fantastic guide to those seeking more purpose in their life.
Click the button below to reach out to Daniel.