Technology addiction has risen to epidemic proportions. It sounds dramatic because it is. Just look at the driver next to you when you’re at the stoplight. They’ll likely be staring down at their phone. What is that urgent that it can’t wait until they aren’t driving? It’s unlikely that anything that has their attention is urgent or even important for that matter; it’s just a habit to constantly be checking our mobile phones. And it’s causing more of a strain on us than most realize. You’ve probably had friends tell you they’re taking a social media break. Why? Tech fatigue. I’d bet they’re referencing mental fatigue from the constant feeling of being “on” thanks to constant updates. But research out of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has found that the artificial light from computer screens affects melatonin production and throws off circadian rhythms, preventing deep, restorative sleep. Researchers also reported that “frequent use of a computer without breaks further increases the risk of stress, sleeping problems and depressive symptoms in women. A combination of both heavy computer-use and heavy mobile-use makes the associations even stronger.” So, what to do?
We have a few ideas.
1. Most mobile phones have Do Not Disturb options that can be tailored to fit your downtime needs and to help you reclaim your time. Consider setting your phone to automatically go into Do Not Disturb mode an hour before you go to bed to allow yourself time to unwind. As well, the Do Not Disturb option built into your phone as well as free apps also allow you reprieve from constant notifications and alerting distractions while driving.
2. Turn off app notifications that constantly grab your attention. Choose to check social media and your email manually.
3. Determine a time of day and a certain amount of time that you will spend online and/or using social media sites. Spending more time engaging face-to-face with those around you and being more present in the moment not only helps improve a person’s well-being, it affects the immune system, according to experts.
4. Leave your computer (and your work) at work. If bringing your computer home causes you to continue working on assignments or tasks that are not time-sensitive, leave your laptop at your office. Allow yourself time to step away from career demands and enjoy your leisure time.
5. Resist the urge to purchase each new gadget and device that’s released into the marketplace. Think of it this way – when mobile phone companies required a binding two-year contract for your phone plan, you were fine with the device you had for those two years. Nothing has really changed in your need; marketers are just doing a better job of reeling you in. AT