Call to unplug or should I say, “Screens down!!!”


It has recently come to my attention that it is no longer the weekend newspaper that limits conversation over the breakfast table. Nor the sports programme that stops a conversation before it begins. Rather, it is the black hole of the smartphone, PC and tablet. Unlike the newspaper and the sports round-up, these new technologies allow a never-ending stream of information, mystery, excitement, entertainment and wonderment. No wonder it is hard to compete.

I am not saying that new technology is a problem. Quite the contrary – I would be lost without my smartphone or laptop. But to ensure that any new tech benefits us, rather than depleting us and our social interactions, we do need to be mindful of how we use it.

Research has shown that excessive use of cellphones and computers can lead to sleep difficulties and increased levels of anxiety and depression. Ongoing distractions due to those email or text alerts and the urge to respond immediately often lead to reduced productivity as well as reduced opportunities to be in the present moment, whether we are working or relaxing.

Here are five things to be mindful of to help ensure that you are in charge of your technology rather than its slave.

  1. Record how much time you are using your computer or smartphone or tablet while attempting to multi-task, be it at work, when socialising face to face, or relaxing.
  2. When you are browsing, note the first interest that enticed you to open up that screen. Then, as you finally close it, note what your last search was about. Did they relate or had you got lost in your wanderings?
  3. Do you remember the areas you looked into or were you on autopilot?
  4. When you receive a text or email alert, do you instantly respond by either looking at or replying to the message, or do you first finish the task at hand?
  5. At the end of a browsing session, do you feel replenished or depleted?

Being aware of our actions is the first step to changing habits that deplete us. If you find that your browsing is one of those habits, what else could you plan to do instead?  What other activities would recharge your batteries and give you a sense of satisfaction or other positive emotion?

– written by Karen