Yes. I am a Colorado girl. But no, I’m a not speaking about what you might think.
I’m talking about another addiction we all share. One that’s not entirely substance related, yet we’re all addicted. That’s right, I’m speaking about technology.
I still remember a time (2007) when I never checked my email unless I was at work. Never in a million years would I wake up, fall out of bed, and check my email before brushing my teeth.
I also remember a time when I found it rude that people would text someone else while sitting right in front of me, having a conversation.
When my kids were young and still breastfeeding, I remember thinking it was crazy how many women would scan through their phones while feeding their babies as opposed to sharing in that moment of connection with their kiddos. How sad.
Alas, these days, these behaviors hardly make most of us bat an eye.
I recently read Adam Alter’s book Irresistible and man, did I need this reminder. He speaks about one of the great ironies of the tech wizards is that many of them DO NOT allow their own children to use the very technology they’ve created. Steve Jobs’ kids were not allowed to play on an ipad. Ever. And the list of geniuses who share this value goes on. Their kids never got high on their own supply.
What these masterminds know is the addictive nature of technology. The average person underestimates the time they spend on technology by an astounding 50%! We have been so taken with the overwhelming benefits of technology that we rarely pause to consider the costs. We hardly even know what the costs are. Alter speaks openly in his book about the many costs technology has in our lives.
He breaks them into four main categories: social, financial, psychological and physical. I want to explore two that really stand out for me:
Social: I was at the gym the other day and there was a group of maybe 5 teenagers just finishing up a sports practice. Not one of them spoke to each other. While they sat shoulder to shoulder, each kid was using his/her phone. Alter speaks about how kids are growing up less empathetic because they no longer have to see the facial expressions in given interactions.
We are becoming less and less motivated to connect with people person to person when we can find the same dopamine satisfaction through connecting online. It’s tragic really. Through our modeling and our limited understanding of long-term cost, we are creating generations of inattentive individuals. Distracted adults create distracted kids.
Psychological: I know from experience that too much tech has an effect on my and my family’s psychological health. Every time I let my kids watch a show, they whine afterwards wanting more. They get off the couch fussier and more demanding then before they watched to begin with. As for myself, I feel a subtle and constant anxiousness surrounding my smart phone. Like there’s always something else I should check real quick. But real quick becomes all the time too damn quickly.
All this stimulation for both kids and adults leaves our threshold for boredom incredibly short. True creativity and innovation come from spaciousness, not imposed tasks and constant screens and distraction.
I am not about to pretend that there are rules or parameters that will work for all people with regards to tech and screen time. But what is abundantly clear to me is that we must impose some kind of boundary around our use of technology for ourselves and for our children. It’s no wonder we’re not sleeping well, not exercising enough, not communicating well and on and on.
We need to take a really clear look at how tech is running our personal and family lives. When we consider the longstanding implications for the younger kids who watch us versus the immediate gratification of refreshing our email or checking social media one last time, perhaps we will be more motivated to lead a wellness revolution as opposed to being used by a technological one.
February 10-17, 2018
Nosara, Costa Rica