Technology: Our New Addiction

If you've ever watch teenaged girls, you might notice that when they are hanging out, they're all on their phones and not actually interacting with each other.  My husband and I have always been curious about this.  The more I've read about this interersting phenomenon, the more I reazlize that what we are dealing with is an addiction:  a technology addiction! 

Now don't get me wrong, technology is great!  Our i-phones are amazing in so many ways.  I personally rely on my phone to stay in touch with my family and friends,  to stay on top of my schedule, to do quick research on google and to get me anywhere in the world with the GPS.  But the issue is how hard it is to control its use. According to those who study addiction, cell phones are made to be addictive.  According to Nicholas Kardaras, PhD who studies technology addiction, addiction is tied to the release of dopamine in the brain-the reward center (sound familiar?).  The more dopamine the behavior triggers, the more addictive it becomes. 

It's just irresistable to stop and check who may have liked your Facebook or Instagram post, to see what e-mail just came in, or what's trending on Twitter.  And for that reason, when the phone is near-by, you are constantly drawn in.  So what's wrong with that?  All the things you aren't paying attention to because you are on your phone.  Things like your relationships, your work, your sleep requirements, your health, and even the road when you are driving.  It just seems like we need some guidelines in order to reign in our impulses.  So here are a few ideas to control tech so tech does not control you:

  1. Have some technology free zones such as your dinner table, when driving (a no brainer but you have to say this),  when spending time visiting with friends or family members, your bedroom and the classroom.  I'm sure you could think up some more.
  2. Don't respond immediately.  Just like when we are trying to disrupt urges to overeat, practice some mindfulness when the urge strikes.  Pay attention to what you are feeling, and just take a couple of deep breaths.  By paying attention, you have an opportunity to change your response.  You may choose to answer the text but in 10 minutes, not immediately, which puts you back in control. 
  3. Take tech breaks.  Go for a walk, or to play a game of tennis and leave your phone behind (sounds a little risky, doesn't it, after all you might miss a call). After a couple of successful experiences, your confidence will increase that you can do it! 
  4. Power off at a set time each night.  Give yourself a 2 hour buffer zone before bedtime which will not only improve the quality of your sleep, but will help you enjoy this tech-free time each night.  There are great books to read which will help you wind down and do something good for your brain. 

We all love technology but by just practicing some sensible guidelines, we'll be able to enjoy our amazing devices and still maintain a good sense of control of the things we value in our lives: our relationships, our families, our jobs, and our health, just to name a few.