Ever walk into a room where everyone was intently focused on their handheld devices? Have you ever had a romantic dinner ruined by a date who made it more of a priority to answer text messages rather than engage in a live conversation? Or, have you ever seen people attempting to drive while staring at their smartphone? Of course, you have…
Even though technology has improved our lives in profound ways, it has also presented a number of unique challenges. It’s clear that we’re becoming increasingly dependent on technology. But is dependency turning into obsession? And does digital obsession come with a price?
Leading cognitive neuroscientists have identified new brain disorders linked to society’s overdependence on technology. These disorders range from separation anxiety over misplacing a device to hearing a phantom ring when no one is calling. Many of the disorders are accompanied by psychiatric issues, including ADD, anxiety, OCD and various types of psychoses. Also, the compulsive need to stay connected to the internet at all times has become a type of addiction to many people. To prevent the negative effects associated with technology-induced disorders, try these six simple steps:
Take a Tech Timeout
It’s not unusual for parents to limit their kids’ TV or tablet time, so why shouldn’t that same rule apply to adults? Establish a time when all devices will be turned off for the remainder of the evening. Not only will this provide a break from calling, texting, browsing the internet and posting content on social media, it will also afford you the opportunity to spend more quality time with friends and family as well as give you a reason to pick up that book you’ve been meaning to finish.
Note: When setting aside time for a tech timeout, be mindful of your particular situation and if you should be available to receive emergency calls.
Schedule Weekly Internet Fasts
A great way to curb the adverse effects of digital obsession is to reserve one day of the week (for maximum effect, choose a day you have off from work) for an internet fast. Rather than sitting around staring at a screen all day, spend some time working on a hobby, engaging in physical activity or enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors. You might be surprised at how many things you can do, and how much fun you can have while taking a break from the internet.
Create a Technology Free Bedroom
One of the best ways to avoid the dangers of digital dependence is to remove TVs, computers and other electronic devices from your bedroom. Creating a relaxing environment, free from the distractions of the outside world, may facilitate better sleep, increase intimacy with your partner, and reduce the amount of electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) your body absorbs. EMF radiation damages healthy cells and is known to increase the risk of cancer.
One Screen at a Time
It’s common for people to use more than one form of technology at the same time. For example, a person may browse the internet or make online purchases on a desktop computer, laptop or iPad while talking, texting or tweeting on a smartphone all while watching TV. To prevent your attention from being divided by multiple devices, follow the “one screen at a time” rule. This should aid your ability to focus while also giving your overstimulated brain some much-needed downtime.
Use Your Brain, Not Your Computer
Our reliance on our brains to remember facts and to problem solve has significantly diminished in recent decades. With the advent of Google and Siri, it has become convenient to search the internet for help even before accessing our brains for the answers. Don’t allow the internet to become a cognitive crutch.
Never Talk and Text
Technology can link people from different parts of the world in seconds. While this has opened new avenues of human connection, it frequently places a strain on our relationships with each other when used inappropriately. “Technoference” is now a word that means the interference of technology in couple relationships. One study demonstrated that Technoference lead to lower relationship and life satisfaction. Don’t sacrifice your relationship with people physically close to you. Keep phone and text conversations to a minimum when you are with other people.
Use these six tips to reduce your chances of developing a technology based brain disorder and to live in harmony with technology rather than being controlled by it.