Von Amy Harris, MS, RN, CNM
Instead of making our lives better, technology is increasingly preventing us from enjoying what really matters in life. Humans are relational, meaning we seek love and connection with others. A recent study by Common Sense Media reported that parents spend on average9 hours and 22 minutesdaily in front of screens (smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions). We can't even use the long working days as an excuse, a complete one8 hoursthis time is for personal use, not for work. The hours we spend staring at our screens take away from what helps us stay healthy: forming loving interpersonal relationships, being physically active, spending time in nature, getting enough sleep, and reduce stress in our lives.
Virtual relationships are not real relationships and will not sustain you or your emotional soul. While the internet can be a great place to meet new people, reconnect with old friends, or even start romantic relationships, online relationships are no substitute for real-life interactions. We quickly lose track and forget about it onlineRelationshipsThey're not subject to the same demands or strains as messy real-world relationships, of course they're simpler!
Parents, teachers, pediatricians and child psychologists are concerned about the impact of the loss of communication skills on this generation of children growing up screen-addicted. How can technology teach them important skills like empathy and emotional intelligence? How does constantly having to fight a screen to get parents' attention affect children's behavioral development?
A really harmful addiction
If we take the field of addiction medicine and apply it to our use of technology, we can classify our technology addiction as a behavioral addiction. Biologically, smartphones and the powerful technology they unlock can cause our brains to unleash the chemical dopamine and change our moods for the better. Similar to addictive substances, you can also develop a technology tolerance so that you spend more and more time in front of screens to experience the same high.
Addiction is not about seeking pleasure. Rather, it is about calming mental stress. We try to distract ourselves from loneliness, frustration, anger, fear, pain, or other distressing emotions we may be feeling. Unfortunately, by using our phones as "security blankets," we can only compound our social isolation by refusing face-to-face contact with people or situations that might make us feel better. This leads to social advancementIsolation, depression and social anxiety.
Research has also shown that heavy phone use can make life even more difficult for people with attention deficit disorder, reducing our ability to concentrate and limiting our creativity. At work, those workers who used their personal smartphones the most reported more anxiety and were less productive than those workers who used their phones less frequently during the workday.
After reading these concerns, I am now attempting to limit my and my family's use of screens. I need all the help I can get so I tried to make a list of what has helped other people look up from their screens. I hope these tips will help you move away from technology too.
10 strategies to switch off
1. Out of sight, out of mind
Put your phone or tablet somewhere out of their reach. A more extreme measure would be to intentionally hide your phone out of sight or in another room. As with other dependencies, you want to reduce temptation by removing the visual cues.
2.Change alert tones
Get rid of those auditory cues (all those big pops, horns, and other sound effects that technology has brought into our sonic universe). Don't let your tech's constant tones and notifications decide when you check it out. Try disabling some of your phone's push notifications only for the much-needed ones. Turn off or choose quieter sounds for ringtones, text notifications, and other push notifications.
3. Stand up and shine (no phone or email)
Check your phone and email after completing your morning chores such as B. walking the dog, having breakfast with your children, exercising or meditating.
4. Say goodnight (no phone or email)
You'll find that you sleep better if you leave your phone outside of your bedroom and even on the ground floor. Many sleep specialists advise using the bedroom solely for sleeping and privacy. let's go Go back to using a traditional alarm clock and set your charging station away from your bedroom.
5. set a good example
Model healthy tech habits for your kids, friends, and co-workers. Do not text while driving. Don't look at your phone during a meeting. If you've made a family agreement not to check phones at the table, remember this applies to parents too!click herefor more ideas.
6. Keep records
Track your smartphone habits by recording a week (or even a day) of every time you pick up and put down your phone. Write down what you did and for how long.Moment is an app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone or iPad each day. You can set daily limits with the app and will be notified if you exceed them. You even have the option to manage your entire family's screen time from your own phone. Other options include Quality Time, OFFTIME, AppDetox, and Lilspace.If apps aren't your thing, you can use a nice pen and paper to add up your total screen time and then set a goal to reduce the total time you spend on your phone.
7. Set a timer
Have you ever said you're going to check facebook for a minute and the next time you look up it's been 2 hours and you've checked email, facebook, twitter and facebook multiple times? Just like you set a timer for your kids, set your phone's countdown timer the next time you say you'll only be checking for a "minute."
8. Be aware
Take time to be with yourself and with others. Pay attention to how your body feels, your breath, your surroundings. There's a reason "mindfulness" is such a buzzword today, sweeping through health care facilities, self-help books, therapist offices, and children's schools. Make it a priority to do things that make you feel good (off your phone) so you're less likely to turn to your phone out of convenience or boredom.Reward yourself for the increasing amount of time you spend away from your phone. A little positive reinforcement never hurt anyone, especially when it comes to behavior modification! Learn more about the mindfulness program at the MaineHealth Learning Resource Centerhere.
When dining out with friends or family, agree to place everyone's phones in a pile in the middle of the table. The first person to reach their phone has to pay for dinner or drinks for everyone.
10. Better yet, take a break together.
Make a conscious decision not to check Facebook (or Instagram or Candy Crush) for a day, a week, or a month. Hide the app on your fourth screen, deep in a folder, or remove it from your phone entirely. Even if you're tempted to review or play a game, you'll have to re-add it to your phone and that will make you think twice.about doing it. Notice what else you do instead of looking at your phone, and keep a list of those activities to refer to when you're tempted by technology.
The health educators at the MaineHealth Learning Resource Center are here to help. They provide trusted, reliable health information and connect people with local resources in the community.Connect with a health educatorThis day! Be good, be well informed.