In the last ten years, technology has become smarter, more portable, and instant. You can read the news, respond to emails, watch television, listen to music, make a phone call — you know what a smartphone does — all from the comfort of a handheld device. In an age where your phone goes wherever you go, separating your real life and tech life proves nearly impossible. Don’t believe me? Take a look around you and you’ll be faced with bitten apples glossed onto the backs of computers and furrowed brows gazing deeply into handheld devices. When technology lived and stayed at home in the form of a T.V. set, a computer, and a landline, it was much easier to have a healthy tech/life balance. You left the house and the tech behind. Now it’s much harder. It’s still possible, however, to find a healthy medium and BOLDFISH is on a mission to get you there.
Digital addiction disrupts the healthy balance between living on- and offline. It’s dangerous because, like any addiction, it’s out of your control. The accessibility of technology has made us feel like we’re required to be constantly reachable. 62% of millennials spend six or more hours on their smartphones per day and most people are checking their phones every 15 minutes, even if they aren’t receiving notifications or alerts. The generation that is in the most danger of digital addiction is Gen-Z, those born between 1995 and 2010. The reason being they’ve been raised holding tablets from a young age. Technology has been an integral part of a lot of the generation’s upbringing so detaching from technology becomes more challenging later on. The average American teen is given their first smartphone at age 10 and spends more than 4.5 hours on it a day — excluding texting and talking. There is an emotional attachment that is created between people and their smartphones, many view them as extensions of themselves. The danger with digital addiction is that it affects all areas of your life. This includes friendships, romantic relationships, and family bonds. Specifically, in romantic relationships, digital addiction has created feelings of jealousy towards devices. The way in which digital addiction is affecting your tech/life balance is that you are no longer in control of the time you’re spending immersed in technology. Your dependency on it makes it harder to function without it and throws off the amount of time you spend living disconnected.
Digital health is the antithesis of digital addiction. That being said, there is a way to incorporate technology into our lives without overdoing it. From a young age, being mindful of the amount of time you’re spending on and off your device will keep your digital health in check. Technology is meant to improve our lives, make them easier, and help us complete tasks efficiently. Digital wellness is about keeping a balance between your time spent online and real life. Taking the time to assess your digital use is the first step to digital health. Being honest with yourself about how much time you’re actually spending online is important in understanding whether your digital intake is productive or not. Next, you should schedule digital breaks. Committing to no-gadget time slots or simply switching off your work phone over the weekends are two easy ways to cut down your use effectively. An important part of digital health is being realistic. Unless you’re planning on moving to a deserted Island, chances are technology is a going to be a part of your life, and that’s okay. Make sure the time you spend connected is productive, whether it’s having a much-needed catch up with a friend, or getting an assignment done for work. Once you’re done with the task you’ve picked up your phone for, an easy way to keep it productive is to just put it down. Don’t let technology substitute human interaction. Make sure that you’re using your phone to meet up and really connect rather than replacing meaningful meetings with cyber chats. Going on social media detoxes or complete tech detoxes is also a great way to come back to reality. Pick a day where you don’t necessarily need to be on your phone — maybe find a Sunday afternoon and just unplug. To put your mind at ease, alert anyone that might need to reach you while you’re disconnecting. Ultimately maintaining digital health is not about completely cutting out technology; it’s more about understanding when it’s time to go offline.
A good way to achieve tech-life balance is to switch your focus from not using technology to simply incorporating habits that don’t involve electronics. Rather than training yourself through negatives, i.e. don’t do this or don’t do that, replace them with positives like, do this and do that, it can make separating from technology much easier and more enjoyable. In a recent BOLDFISH interview Nina Hersher, founder of Nourishing Habits, shared some wisdom on a healthy relationship with the rise of social media and technology. Nourishing habits is a wellness coaching company that focuses on self-care with specific reference to technology. A point she emphasizes in not shaming people for needing to be connected throughout the day. So many people work remotely now and it’s hard to avoid technology. “One of the takeaways here is to focus on morning and evening routines outside of work.” When Hersher first began her studies of health and self-care she found it hard to find a course that specified in tech-health. Now there are plenty of organizations and movements that are devoted to encouraging people to unplug. An example being the #TechAHike social media movement earlier this month, encouraging people to unplug for one hour on November 17th and get outside. Incorporating things like this into your day to day life can be helpful in reaching a tech/life balance. Taking a walk every morning or evening without your phone, doing yoga or taking part in an art class, these are just a few examples of activities that you can incorporate into your routine that will force you to be sans-phone for at least an hour.
Written by Delfina Forstmann