Digital technology creates so many exciting and inconceivable benefits and possibilities. As a result, people worldwide are finding it difficult to unplug. To thrive at work and at home in this fast paced, data driven world we need to build and sustain a healthy relationship with our technology, before it’s too late!
Today we invite you to join us and Reclaim your life 24/7 in 2017 in what will be an enlightening and inspiring journey.
Like any relationship - Sometimes we take it for granted!
As we are swept up in our roles as corporate employees, business owners and parents we often take our relationship with technology for granted with a raft of beliefs, reasons and justifications as to “why” it is what it is! With this internal conflict and myriad of external expectations it is difficult to STOP and notice exactly how it impacts on who and what was important to us. While we are looking for a level of peace, simple productivity, and human connection, one thing that is getting in our way is not our technology itself but our problematic use of it. This can be as simple as the use of our mobile phone, multi-tasking across multiple devices or a much higher dependence on connectivity. At times, we may feel anxious that if we disconnect from the chatter, ping, ring and buzz of our devices our incredibly noisy world might just collapse!
It’s not just in Australia, U.S. and Europe show that between 1.5% and 8.2% of the population suffers from some level Internet addiction. One in eight Americans suffers from problematic Internet use, according to a study published in The International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine, and rates are even higher in many Asian countries. An estimated 30 percent or more of the Chinese population is classified as highly addicted to the Web.
It’s not simply the amount of time spent with the digital device that defines an addict, though, but how an unhealthy relationship with technology adversely affects someone’s mental and physical health, daily life, relationships and academic or job performance.
Impact of digital technologies on wellbeing, productivity & relationships
While it is an emerging topic and conclusions from the research investigating the impact of digital technologies on human wellbeing is yet to be agreed upon, research is showing that children who suffer from Internet addiction have an increased risk of depression, problems at school, obesity and carpal tunnel syndrome. There are new neurosis or conditions – like the fear of being separated from our mobile phone– nomophobia. The increase of depression and anxiety, ADHD and other attention deficit disorders and loneliness can have traces back to the use of technology depending on the individual affected.
From a health perspective, the use of digital technology can be exhausting for the mind, leading to burnout, anxiety and sleep disorders. Socially, the connectivity can impact on our relationships at home, at work and our relationships on-line can take on a life of their own. Productivity, learning and creativity can also be adversely affected. So to create this healthy relationship we need to ensure we can integrate technology into our lives in ways that we can get focused on what is important, stay calm, and build real relationships, which nourish and support us to adapt and flourish in our unchartered environment.
The “So What!?” or “Who cares?” factor
To reclaim your digital life, start with the question – “Why does having a healthy relationship with my digital devices matter to me?” If you have gotten this far in our article you probably already have a good idea, even at an intuitive level. However, we are not talking about what your boyfriend, wife, parents or boss say or the work or life goals you are using your digital technology to achieve – we are talking about what really matters to you. With this in mind, how does the way you use digital devices impact on this? For example, your family may be who matters most to you, notice how you use your technology around them – does it help foster your relationship with them? Or does it create conflict? Maybe it has no impact? Your answer is your “so what factor” and why you will want to make a sustainable change to how you use technology!
Mindfully engaging in technology use
The Digital Detox Project is not anti-technology; digital technology is a tool, which we use in our lives and work, in a digital age. We are about the mindful use of technology. When we engage in digital technology mindfully to assist with our mental health and well-being, relationships and productivity a different path emerges. For example, virtual reality has been identified as a potential useful option in the field of clinical psychology to treat post traumatic distress disorder and there have also been mental health benefits of gaming, including improved mood by triggering intense positive emotional experiences. E-based behavioural therapy such as The Mood Gym are designed to treat more than one difficulty at the time and they are relatively low cost, unobtrusive interventions, which can support primary care mental health services. However many of us are more familiar with meditation apps such as Head Space or Smiling Mind, staying in contact with family and friends across the globe with WhatsApp, the crowd funding capability of social media and the power of online communities for support.
How to break the dependence on connectivity
There has been consensus in the field of psychology on the benefits of using mindfulness to treat problematic behaviour and addictions. Experts in the field say in order to treat technology addiction with mindfulness, the first step is to pay attention to when you use technology mindlessly and be non-judgmental about the behavior. Then reflect on the helpfulness of the device, and notice the benefits of disconnecting. As the three keystones of mindfulness are: Intention, Attention and Action, technology is said to interfere with mindfulness by causing the individual to forget what matters (intention), distracting them (attention), and then keeping the individual from taking action. With our mindless use of technology we are actually becoming less mindful and now is the time to take action!
What if I am concerned about this?
Let’s not beat around the bush here - if you’re concerned that you or someone close to you may be on the verge of crossing into digital addiction, don’t get feisty – get help! There are courses, camps, on-line and real time seminars and on-going support. If it is time to reach out to a health care professional or psychotherapist there are treatment plans, facilities and programs akin to those originally designed for substance abuse. Whether you’ve just noticed the problem or have seen it worsen over time the good news is that there are a variety of available resources to help.
Reclaim your 24/7 in 2017
If you would like to know how to transform your relationship with technology click here for your copy of the “13 Tips to Reclaim your digital life and build a healthy relationship with technology” or to find out more about how this relates to you complete our “What’s your relationship with technology” quiz. If you would simply like to share your perspective or find out more about how we can help you, your family or your employees “Reclaim 24/7 in 2017”, contact us today on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0439 461567.
Elizabeth Hughes and Sharon Harvey
Co-Creators, The Digital Detox Project
References and further reading
The Cabin (2015) Australia’s Internet Addiction: Outrageously Hard-Wired, April 26. Located: https://www.thecabinsydney.com.au/australian-internet-addiction-outrageously-hard-wired/
Shonin, Van Gordon and Griffiths (2014) Mindfulness as a Treatment for Behavioural Addiction
About the Digital Detox Project
The Digital Detox Project supports members of our community to create space in and away from the everyday, to foster awareness of what is important and the interplay between this and our use of technology. We share empowering and pragmatic ways to make conscious choices as to how we want to live our lives, connect with our families, run our businesses and aspire to fundamentally transform our communities’ relationship with technology.