Technology has enhanced our lives in countless ways, but it’s also brought us added stress and considerably shorter attention spans. For instance, for all its boons and benefits, the smartphone has been accused of bringing about the death of conversation—and this is only one of many such examples. It seems a new concern for many of us in the technology age is doing everything we can in avoiding digital addiction.
Certainly many modern educators consider this a potential problem with any student. Christian Lous Lange, a teacher himself, claimed that, “technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master,” and he was correct to do so. Ultimately, technology is meant to enhance our lives without presenting the danger of taking them over completely. How we can accomplish this is illustrated in Kira M. Newman’s Yes! Magazine article How to Kick Your Digital Addiction and Learn to Live Again.
In the article Kim cites the work of author Amy Blankson and her new book The Future of Happiness: 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-Being in the Digital Era for a few interesting—and one or two alarming—statistics:
- Young people spend an average of 6 or more hours a day on their phones, and 50% of teens feel addicted to them
- The average American user turns their phone on 46 times per day
- 6% of U.S. employees checked their work email when they or their spouse were in labor
What this all means is that our technology has a hold of many of us in ways that we may struggle to admit. For instance, how much have you unconsciously interacted with your own technology before you even began reading this article? How much email did you read? How much passive scrolling did you do on Facebook or Twitter?
“I encourage you to avoid the road of the tech doomsday-sayers,” Blankson cautions in her book, “because I don’t see that it is truly possible for us to eliminate technology.” And we shouldn’t have to for the sake of our happiness and peace of mind, either.
So how do we ensure we are avoiding digital addiction and using technology with intent? Kim Newman presents some ideas from Blankson’s book below.
- Cap sensory overload: Turn off all but the most crucial notifications on your phone, and resolve to check email and social media only two or three times a day.
- Examine your fears: Why are you hesitant to disconnect from your technology? Do you fear consequences to your professional or personal life, or perhaps that you may lose a feeling of importance or connection? “Interruptions leave us feeling desired and needed, which can become intoxicating and addictive,” Blankson writes. Think of what scares you most about switching off.
- Do some soul searching: Ask your self this question: “Does this technology truly make me happier and more productive?” If the answer is no, consider the possibility that either the tech itself or your behaviour with it needs to change.
- Give yourself a break: This can be the hardest one of all for many of us, but ultimately the most beneficial. Taking a break from tech lets our minds and bodies detox and decompress, making us physically and mentally healthier and happier. This is supported by plenty of studies like this one done on workers in Korea.
In the end, avoiding digital addiction doesn’t need to carry with it dark or ominous connotations. Technology of all kinds is a fact of life and learning in the digital age. Whether it’s a good thing or bad all depends on how we choose to use it. Ultimately, we either manage it or it manages us, but the answer is in our hands.
Read Kira M. Newman’s Yes! Magazine article How to Kick Your Digital Addiction and Learn to Live Again