I ride public transit to work. It’s a 20-minute ride, and I enjoy it because I am able to make use of the time. I often read a book, but can also text friends or do email. I do each of these activities from my phone. This makes me like everyone else - on their phone for the entire ride.

I see nothing wrong with this. Smartphones are incredible tools that give us unprecedented power. Many people also do similar things such as read the news, text, email, etc.

What surprises me is how many people I see playing games on their phones. These are not games that require any skill or even thinking. They are simple, mindless games that are most comparable to slot machines. These games are designed with highly addictive feedback loops: each game is short, has no friction to start, and offers a variable reward.

As far as entertainment goes, I understand the value. I believe it is important, but it is scary to think about how much time some of these people spend on these games. Especially if they do this every day to and from work!

Here’s a rough estimate of what this adds up to. If I played games on my phone during my whole commute, it would be:

20 minutes X 2 times per day X 5 days per week X 49 weeks per year

= 9800 minutes = 163.33 hours = 6.8 days per year ≈ 1 week per year

One week per year! That is an insane amount of time, and many people have a much longer commute. Even if you made a simple choice to only play games on your commute home, you would get 3.5 full, awake days of your life back. The games do not scare me, but the compounded time does.

**49 weeks per year to account for vacations, business trips, etc