Tablets, smartphones and even smart TVs are part and parcel of our everyday lives – they’re fun, they’re informative and they make our lives easier.
UK smartphone saturation now touches 75% and surveys suggest 83% of those who go on holiday stay digitally connected. It begs the question, are we allowing our digital lives to infringe too much on our daily lives? Have we reached the connectivity tipping point and do we as Britons need to begin considering a digital diet? Perhaps!
We live in a world where the next conversation, gaming experience or TV series is one click away. On a lot of levels it’s fantastic. However, it can also quite easily become too much; leaving us with little time to switch off, tune out and have some completely offline time to ourselves.
According to Larry Rosen, author of the book ‘iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us’, frequent users of smart devices show signs of OCD and ADD.
As with any diet, there are no radical solutions and throwing your smart phone in the bin works only to the same degree fad, crash diets do for people trying to lose weight. It doesn’t. The solution is to be practical, measured and realistic with our use of technology. Powering down completely is impractical. However, being aware and mindful of your smartphone or tablet use and then controlling compulsions to check your email 5 times in 10 minutes or refresh your Facebook Newsfeed constantly is realistic.
There are plenty of ways for us to get a hold on our digital loves and prevent them impacting on our quality of life.
A lot of us check our phones repeatedly because there is a reward in the form of a message, or some form of media. In turn this creates a dopamine rush that stimulates our pleasure centre. Simply, we turn on our phone and we receive something that makes us feel happy. This is known as operant conditioning in medical circles. The best way to reduce the urge to check your pocket is to retrain your mind to do something else that makes you feel happy and gives you that rush.
Consciously setting limits on use helps greatly. Simply, schedule a time you won’t be using your device for and then place your phone out of reach for that period, knowing you will check it when the specific time is up. Keeping your phone out of arm’s length reduces the compulsion for your subconscious to pick it up for a quick browse.
The digital world overloads our brains with stimuli and this is often the root cause of people having problems sleeping and poor concentration levels. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to reduce this load – simply go for a walk outside through a pleasant environment. By spending time with nature and getting some fresh air you restore the brain’s ability to focus.
By limiting our digital use and knowing when we need to be on and offline, we can create the balance in our lives. Remember, your device is always online so you don’t need to be.