It is impossible to dispute the many ways technology has positively affected the world. Tech has made interacting and collaborating with people from all corners of the planet as convenient as conversing with a next door neighbor. Technology also has changed the face of education, making it possible for students from all walks of life to easily access a wealth of information at the click of a button.
For all of its many attributes, technology has its drawbacks as well. One of the notable detriments is the “always on” reality of tech, as well as the ability to become addicted to such instant gratification. Few adults and children can spend more than a few minutes without checking their devices.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, on average people are online 24 hours a week, twice as long as 10 years ago. One in five adults spends as much as 40 hours a week online. According to Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of nine hours a day online, compared to about six hours for kids between the ages of eight and 12 and 50 minutes for children eight years old and younger.
Technology also has blurred the lines that distinguish work and personal time. Gone are the days of leaving the office behind when the workday ends in early evening. Today’s workers can take work home, work remotely and even check work emails or put in some hours while on vacation. Children, too, can pay a price as a result of engaging with technology. For example, various studies indicate more than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.
These tips may help adults and children regain control and find balance in a tech-driven world.
- Set strict usage times. According to Net Nanny, a technology and internet watchdog site, being plugged into devices, on an almost continual basis, directly affects the brain by keeping it in a state of constant stimulation. This can make it difficult for the brain to get the downtime it needs to recharge. Limit hours of screen time, and wind down at least an hour or so before bed.
- Put devices on silent. If you or your children cannot resist the lure of devices, set them on silent or put them out of sight and out of reach at key times during the day.
- Beef up in-person socialization. Instead of texting or emailing, speak with friends, family and coworkers in person.
- Increase exercise. Time spent outdoors away from computers or other devices can be beneficial to the mind and body.
- Find alternative solutions. Rather than running an internet search every time you have a question, look up answers in a book, travel to learn about new things, experience new hobbies, and immerse yourself in the physical world with renewed vigor.
Tech has changed the world, but it doesn’t have to consume people’s daily lives. With some mindfulness, individuals can find the right balance.