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Addicted to Technology

technologyIn the age of smart phones, it can be difficult to go even an hour without checking the screen for new messages, emails, or social media updates.[1] When it isn’t by our side, we feel like something is missing. When we can’t access an app, we feel lost. Our lives center around such technology, and we are reminded of it continuously throughout the day.1 It buzzes during dinner, beeps when you’re just falling asleep, and you can’t avoid it.1 You unlock the device to check that one message and two hours later find that you’ve perused Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube as well.1

Dr. Ned Hallowell, an expert psychiatrist on technology addiction calls this “Screen Sucking.”1 He suggests that our compulsion to constantly check our phones is related to the dopamine increase caused by the constant reinforcement we get from messages, videos, and social media.1

“It used to be that the mail came once a day and we ran to the mail box with great anticipation of what would arrive,” said Hallowell. “Now, that positive reinforcement is available every few seconds.”1

In fact, Dr. Hallowell relates technology to food, which is unlike other addictive things as it is impossible to avoid.1 We need it to survive, and it’s everywhere.1 So is technology, and we may even need that to survive nowadays.1

However, as you spend more time staring at the screen of your phone, you miss out on the authentic aspects of life. It raises the question: How much is too much, and how can we change our relationship with these devices?1 Dr. Kimberly Young, a psychologist who directs the Center for Internet Addiction, states that a problematic relationship with technology can resemble that of alcohol dependence or abuse in the way that it is unclear of how much is too much.1

“What we focus on instead is the effects and symptoms caused by a person’s relationship to the internet,” said Young.1

Therefore, it is important to evaluate the impact that your dependence on technology and your phone has on your ability to be present in other areas of your life.1 Ask yourself: Am I able to control my use of technology and not allow it to control me?1 Consider how your phone impacts your personal relationships, time with your family, efficiency at work, and your stress load.1 While there is no easy solution to eliminate technology from our lives, or even reducing it, focus instead on developing healthy ways to incorporate technology into your life.1

First, it is important to acknowledge that technology has power.1 It is alluring.1 It has the ability to prevent your from being present in other activities.1 Simply being aware of this fact can help you to take steps to change your interaction with your devices.1

Second, set boundaries by identifying and preserving screen-free time in your routine.1 Leave your phone somewhere safe and forget about it during this time.1 This can instill some anxiety as to missing an important call, but using your phone’s alerts creatively can help. There are VIP ringtones, do not disturb options, and other helpful features that help you let go of your need to constantly check new notification and instead know when a call or message is important.1 This can help you distance yourself a bit.1

Third, use a real watch or a clock.1 We use our phones to tell time, too, and switching on that screen can suck us in to another application or email.1 A regular timepiece can help spare those extra temptations.1

Overall, technology is an important part of our lives; however, it isn’t the most important. Learning how to put down the phone and live in the present makes for a huge difference when you look back at memories you made while living life.

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