Nowadays, being glued to the screen of a smartphone or staring at the wide, bright screen of a computer is as intertwined without our daily lives as breathing. While the advancements made in technology can bring a sense of ease and entertainment that we may not have experienced before, the impact on the mental and physical health of its most popular consumers - millennials - can lead to devastating effects.
Quality-time and genuine connections with friends has evolved into seemingly-witty comments under heavily-filtered photos on any number of social media platforms.
With the emergence of the internet and various social media platforms, gone are the days of checking the table of contents or an organized directory for whatever particular thing you may be seeking. Now, with just a couple clicks on a keyboard, millions of results are returned from a single search, leading you down the hole of analysis-paralysis from having way too many options at your fingertips.
With homes now commonly housing multiple wireless wifi-devices, each member owning at least one smartphone, laptop, digital tablet and the like, all usually running at the same time, individual cognitive overload is compounded by a collective indifference to the impact of excessive technology-use. Whether at home, school, or work, individuals are forced to process innumerable bits of information quickly, moving from one source to the other as quickly as possible.
Too much of one thing is never good for your health, and information is no different. Information overload is real, and can be the trigger for insomnia, anxiety, and difficulty focusing.
Social (Media) Comparison
Social media platforms have the potential to uplift, educate, and support, but has unfortunately become a den of snarky comments and cyber-bullying.
With the increasing obsession directed to how many “likes” or “followers” that can be attained on each platform, a fragile self-esteem hinged on public validation can be harmful.
Self-acceptance can be hard-won in the age of external validation.
Using Technology Responsibly
So, how can we start becoming more mindful of how much technology we use and how much social media information we consume on a daily basis? According to a recent article on APA.org, “Eighteen (18) percent of adults identify technology as a very or somewhat significant source of stress, and twenty (20) percent of American adults say technology causes the most stress when it doesn’t work.”
Here are four recommendations for avoiding the overwhelming impacts of excessive technology-use:
Your quality of sleep is significantly affected by night-time use of smartphones, laptops, and tablets. A random text message or phone call can send your mind into a tailspin of thoughts at a time when it needs to be winding down. Put your much-needed rest first by turning off your phone, or even just putting all notifications on silent.
Remove The Rose-Colored Social Media Glasses.
Social comparison can lead to feelings of being less-than, with the highlight reels of everyone else’s lives seeming like a glamorous alternative to your quiet nights at home. With researchers finding the link between feelings of anxiety and depression with social media use, we should all be careful with how we perceive these platforms. Instead of passively scrolling and consuming, instead, make a conscious effort to create valuable content, and connect with like-minded individuals who can uplift you instead of making you feel down.
Create a Technology Schedule
Keep your exposure to digital technology under control by making a schedule that you actually follow. Instead of spending more time than expected scrolling through your feeds, focus on tasks of productivity, and leave social-media scrolling for its own designated time-slot.
Make Time To Recharge
Our connections have almost all become digital, and while that may be great for some, it can cause a dent in the genuinity of some relationships. While technology seems to be the crux of our existence, it is not the most integral to a fulfilling life. Make time to unplug, recharge, and just step away from the constant checking, and replying. You might find that these periods, however short, when committed to consistently, can allow you to develop aspects of your creativity and productivity that you needed to tap into.
While technology can be a life-saver in many ways, and the advancements can be dazzling and exciting, be encouraged to shift your perspective on the role it plays in your life, become more mindful of the power it has, and commit to stepping away.