by Dr. Kendra A. O’Hora, LCMFT
Today’s throwback is a post I did several years ago on technology addiction.
Only now is research starting to catch up to us and echo what we’ve all secretly known but have been too scared to come to terms with – technology can cause a lot of harm!
In fact, I can only imagine how many people won’t read todays post because they are just too stubborn about this topic.
The topic alone seems counterintuitive to the whole blogging thing, right? How are you supposed to put down your devices when you need a device to read. this. post.
OK, OK. The tip today isn’t about putting down your device for good, it’s about exploring time away to see how it can enhance your personal and relational well-being. So here, it goes!
I had a friend tell me once that her children didn’t know that you couldn’t just ‘turn on’ the Superbowl because they were so used to Netflix and DVR pre-recording everything!
These days, technology is not just at our fingertips but constantly flowing through our minds. Have you ever had a thought through the eyes of Instagram or Facebook? You literally think about the picture you want to post or status update as you are living the moment. Talk about instant.
A couple years ago my younger cousin asked me to take a short break from technology for a school project.
In fact, when I gave up Facebook during this project I had a rule – every time my thumb automatically went to the Facebook app (or where the app used to be) I would text someone I cared about to send an encouraging message.
Phew, that first week I was texting my sisters several times a day with an encouraging message, ha!
Now, I’m not asking you to take a break for a week or even a day. I’m challenging you think differently. Our normal routine with devices typically goes like this:
Catch my drift? And if you’re anything like me, you check it nonstop whether at work or home.
So what does it mean to think differently? Well here’s your Quick Tip(s) for the day:
When you hear a buzzing noise or interruption from your phone, determine whether answering it will be helpful or hurtful. In his book Brain Rules, John Medina talks about how our brains actually cannot multitask on higher-level activities.
Because our brains process so quickly we think we are multitasking but actually, our brain has to go through a series of processes to stop what we are doing, focus on the new task, and then get back to the old task.
Consider whether putting your phone on silent while working would increase productivity. Just think about it.
Some people (like myself) have email and phones open all day because of the nature of our work. Perhaps you have to leave these things on all day.
But what about at night?
Could you designate a device-free time in your home? Say, no devices after 7pm?
During my week fast from technology I found that nights were the most rewarding. I no longer felt slave to my device but was able to pursue things I had long wanted to do: painting, writing, reading, exercising.
Often we choose our device as a quick distraction to pass time. How much time are we wasting, though?
How much more meaningful would your night be if you put all of your devices upstairs or in the office (on silent!), for an hour each evening? You may actually get to pursue the things you are passionate about. Just think about it.
Technology has been a true blessing for a huge portion of my life. Technology has allowed me to travel and pursue my studies while staying connected with family/friends. But, I know all too well that devices can hurt my relationships.
A good question to ask yourself before you click on your device is whether it is helping or hurting your relationships.
Is there a room full of people you could connect with? Would someone benefit from a quick visit face-to-face versus a text? Perhaps playing one more round of trivia crack (or candy crush, remember that craze) can wait. Just think about it.
Maybe it’s too much to consider putting down your device right now. Despite any hang ups, I challenge you to think about these three tips. Gaining some self-awareness about your technology use can be very eye-opening.
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