Have you ever looked around in a public place to see how many people were using their phones (texting, surfing the web, etc.)? It’s usually a lot, and truthfully it can be a little discouraging to witness individuals staring at their screens instead of talking to one another. Please don’t misunderstand, I am a huge advocate of technology; it’s profoundly changed my life and career for the better! Still, we all know that things can get out of hand if we let them. Digital overload affects our ability to process information cognitively, to be mindful of our own experience, and to be present with other people. Here are some ways to help you manage your technology use (instead of letting it control you):
Master Your Device Settings
One of the first ways to get a grip is to utilize your settings. We often think of parental controls as a way to filter out inappropriate content for our kids, but many devices have settings to help us limit the time we’re able to spend on them as well. For example, a specific feature may be set that means the computer cannot be used after 11 pm. Do some research, and take advantage of these types of settings to help you create boundaries.
Intentionally Set Notifications
We all seem to perk up when we hear the “ping!” letting us know we have a new email or see the red number on the globe in the upper right-hand corner on Facebook. The defaults settings on social media are high-alert because they want users to interact with it. But we can turn them off! (or at least turn them down). Adjust your notifications so that you don’t get a “beep!” for every little thing. Instead of pulling these sites up whenever they buzz you, use these sites intentionally, and set your alerts to only things you really care about.
Link Tech Use to Positive Behavior
In families, we sometimes inadvertently frame technology as bad by saying things like, “you can only watch one hour of television per day.” Our goal should be to have our kids develop a healthy interaction with it, so let’s instead put a different spin on it by linking it to something positive. For example, maybe your ten year old can play a game on the iPad after she reads for twenty minutes. In my own life, I let myself watch my favorite show while jogging on the treadmill. Connect usage of phones, tvs, and tablets to positive behavior instead of just mindlessly scrolling your feed.
This is the one that can really be the downfall of interpersonal relationships. Whoever you’re currently in a room with should be your number one. When we get caught up in news, politics, sports, or whatever else is on our gadgets, we may forget who we’re at dinner with. As human beings, we need eye contact, touch, and physical interaction. Don’t let an endless stream of information (some of it useless!) hurt your relationships.
I love this video by spoken word artist Gary Turk about not letting our gadgets get in the way of our relationships. Don’t forget to “Look Up!”
Unplug For Play & Rest
And finally, take a break from your phone or tablet! Why not leave it home one day, let it charge in another room, and just go without for a bit? We don’t need to be plugged in 24/7. Disconnect digitally and reconnect to your life in other ways!
If you’re feeling stuck or having problems in a relationship, consider seeking counseling services at Wasatch Family Therapy in Davis County.