Make a conscious effort to take a break from its’ hold over us
Technology has changed us, both for the better and worse.
While getting rid of Tech is not on the agenda, building awareness around its’ dangers can help us better manage our usage to get back our productivity, focus, and mental capacity.
Sometimes we need to unplug. Since Tech really is taking over every aspect of our lives, we may have to make this a conscious and organized effort to detox.
Tech companies know all about the downsides of devices and the Web. In a 2011 New York Times interview, Steve Jobs famously said his kids were not allowed to use the iPad because it was too dangerous. Bill and Melinda Gates also prohibited phones for their kids before age 14 and then maintained strict restrictions and rules around usage. If the heads of major tech companies limit device usage, isn’t this slightly concerning?
Interestingly, children’s device usage has been linked to wealth, as a study found kids in households making under $35,000 annual income per year had the highest consumption compared to kids from households of over $100,000 per year, who use tech devices least.
Screen fatigue and digital addiction are real concerns. Here are some tips to help you if you are addicted to your phone. Taking a digital detox has become a new form of therapy. Modern life is to blame, with many whose work happens on a computer. Then after work, people relax by getting back on their devices. Being permanently glued to our screens day and night reduces our ability to communicate and make real connections with one another. Have you ever seen couples or friends in public who are all checking their phones instead of talking? Sadly, this is becoming quite common.
31% of U.S. adults now report that they go online “almost constantly,” — Pew Research Study
In a recent Linkedin poll, I asked my almost 68,000 followers when they check LinkedIn, and the majority answered: “Throughout the day.”
In 2014, iOS developer Kevin Holesh created an app called Moment to track daily smartphone usage after realizing that his digital addictions impacted his real-world relationships.
It’s time to unplug more and set clear no-tech boundaries. There are a couple of applications that can help you stay focused.
Problems Related to Too Much Tech Usage That You May Be a Victim Of
1/ Poor Concentration
Many studies have shown a direct relationship between Tech consumption and shorter attention spans.
2/ Poor Sleep
Sleep is vital for concentration, yet tech is ruining that too. Overexposure to blue light and overstimulation too close to bedtime contribute to poorer sleep quality. It is no wonder we have a more challenging time staying alert during the day. According to this study, sleep trouble linked to tech usage is even worse in kids and teens.
“Sitting is the new smoking.” has become a modern slogan. People are sitting for up to twelve hours per day, then laying down for another eight hours, leaving only four hours of movement.
We don’t go outside much for play or walks. Our outdoor activities are organized, limited, and rarer.
Kids today spend twice as much time indoors as their parents did during childhood. With the fear of abductions, parents aren’t encouraging them anymore to “go outside and play.” In fact, we see fewer children in general outdoors alone, even in safe suburb neighborhoods. Instead, they are indoors, playing video games or watching screens. When they go out, it is usually shuttled to and from structured activities.
“Why do so many Americans say they want their children to watch less TV, yet continue to expand the opportunities for them to watch it? More important, why do so many people no longer consider the physical world worth watching? “
Adults are worse than kids, mainly sitting for work, driving, watching tv, and laying in bed on devices. Even if you exercise, it doesn’t negate ten hours of sitting. Your metabolism slows down. Too much sitting has been linked to a higher risk for an array of diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and a shortened life span. An eye-opening book on the topic is Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman.
4/ Less Reading, Writing, and Thinking
People barely practice recreational reading. According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, 75% of U.S. adults say they have read a book in the past 12 months in any format, whether entirely or partway through, which has remained unchanged since 2011. These numbers may be lower since I suspect some people are too embarrassed to admit the truth: that we have lost our focus and patience to the point where we can’t even finish that book on our nightstand.
In my work with brands and companies, I am alarmed to see thinking and brain processing on the decline, even among CEOs. Not reading emails, not making an effort to write even an entire paragraph, and asking everyone around them to do everything has been the norm rather than the exception. It isn’t about being busy; it’s about having to do something. People just can no longer be bothered. It is crazy to discover how many “authors” didn’t even write a line in their books. While I understand editing by a professional is a must, outsourcing an entire book is a whole different level, especially if it has only their name on it. Why do it when you can hire someone else to think for you, including computers?
“The Net’s interactivity gives us powerful new tools for finding information, expressing ourselves, and conversing with others. It also turns us into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.”
― Nicholas G. Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
5/ Multi-Tasking: The Enemy of Productivity
As long as you have a device connected to the Internet, you are at risk for multitasking. One must make a serious effort to stay disciplined and avoid opening new browser tabs or clicking on anything that takes us off-task.
The Internet worsens the problem by consistently showing you new things. As soon as you make a purchase, you will see a similar product that looks even better. This creates a constant feeling of ‘never good enough’. We live in an upgrade culture. It is easy to fall victim to Shiny Object Syndrome.
Studies show that multitasking is proven to be impossible for the brain. It slows us down, but it doubles our probability of error. It is the enemy of information processing.
“Less mental clutter means more mental resources available for deep thinking.”
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
6/ Social Isolation and Depression
According to an article in Psychology Today, social media makes people lonelier and more isolated, from children to adults.
Teenagers today don’t seem to have as many conversations as earlier generations; they text or use emojis to communicate. Sometimes they even prefer playing games together online to seeing each other in person. In fact, in a 2019 Common Sense Census, 69% of teens surveyed said they watch videos online every day.
Multiple studies have linked social media usage to depression and social isolation, like this one.
Teens are not alone. Their parents are doing the same thing in the other room. The new intimacy killer is called phubbing. 25% of cell phone owners in a marriage or partnership have felt their spouse or partner was distracted by their cell phone when they were together. –Pew Research Checking cell phones kills trust, closeness, and the sense of empathy between couples, all essential to maintaining a healthy connection.
“Every time you check your phone in company, what you gain is a hit of stimulation, a neurochemical shot, and what you lose is what a friend, teacher, parent, lover, or co-worker just said, meant, felt.”
― Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
In the movie, The Social Dilemma, we hear from several key people working in the Tech industry, sharing their personal insights about the effects of device usage on mental health.
“We’re training and conditioning a whole new generation of people that when we are uncomfortable or lonely or uncertain or afraid we have a digital pacifier for ourselves that is kind of atrophying our own ability to deal with that.” — Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google and co-founder of Centre for Humane Technologies
Here are some ideas to control Tech in your life:
- Limit your daily screen time and possibly an entire day per week where you commit to Tech-free time
- Disable chat notifications or remove chats altogether
- Read more
- Go outside more
- Read more about the effects of internet usage on the brain and body
- Stop buying more apps or media subscriptions
- Talk more to your partner, kids, friends, and loved ones
- Make an effort to talk more to a person face-to-face over texting them
- Turn off the Internet while you are working if you have problems with distractions
- Put your phone on airplane mode for most of the day, only checking missed calls at crucial times
- Plan timed breaks daily to recharge away from your screen
- Time block your tasks
- Remove chatting from your company as it is a major concentration disruptor
- Become painfully aware of your device consumption, both at work and privately
- Have conversations with your spouse and kids about healthy tech usage
- Get a tech-free hobby
- Work less
- Take a productivity or time management class
- Become a lifelong learner, significantly how to improve yourself
- Get a standing desk
- Set up walking meetings where you can have the meeting while walking outdoors, either in-person or with a headset
- Write a family Tech policy and get all members to commit to following it
- If you manage people at work, instill a healthy break policy to encourage more movement and offline interactions into your company culture and less dependence on Tech
- Make your bedrooms Tech-free zones
- Do non-Tech projects with your kids
- Practice the lost art of conversation with other humans more often device-free
- Make it a rule never to use devices during meals, including tv
- Try writing with a pen and paper daily, even for a couple of minutes
- Challenge yourself to be more physical on a weekly basis
- Consider deleting or blocking social media from your devices
Tech is addictive, and there is no escaping it entirely. Yet, with some conscious efforts, we can reclaim our lives and remove the power it has over us, to find joy again in the simple things, unplugged and fully present. Are you with me?
Is Google Making Us Stupid? — Nicholas Carr’s Essay for The Atlantic
Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
Irresistible by Adam Alter
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
The Social Dilemma film
Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement by Katy Bowman
Having grown my own startup from zero to 8-figures as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and 20+ yr marketing veteran, I now coach and teach burned-out professionals how to escape unfulfilling jobs to build a 6-figure online business around one passion and become the ‘go to’ authority in their field using my 4-pillar framework, From Zero 2 Six. My mission is to help others achieve time freedom, live their best lives, and ultimately, to love Mondays, via my blog, newsletter, and podcast, Take Back Mondays. Subscribe now to receive more value in your inbox.