Woman using her cell phone and her lap top at the same time.
June 10, 2016 | by The Polyclinic

    by: Jennie Crooks, MSW Candidate 2016

    Smartphones, tablets, watches, fitness bands, ear buds—we are now connected with devices and gadgets that bring information on demand whenever and wherever we want it.

    Technology has also broadened the opportunity for multi-tasking but studies are showing that in addition to juggling more tasks, we may be more affected than we think. From poor decision making to distracted driving and decreased focus, “mindless” technology use can create subtle and tangible effects on our lives.

    It’s also possible that intentionally paying attention to the present moment, nonjudgmentally, can counteract these effects.

    INCREASING USE OF TECH

    60

    The number of text messages sent per day by 14- to 17-year-olds.

    75

    Percentage of 18- to 24- year-olds with a profile on social networking sites.

    94

    Percentage of 18- to 34-year-olds who send text messages regularly.

    Five Tips for Mindful Tech Use

    1. Ask yourself, “What’s my intention in checking my device right now?” Checking in with yourself before using technology allows you to get in touch with your reasons behind use. If you are only checking your phone because you are bored or uncomfortable, notice that boredom/discomfort, and then make an informed decision about how to move forward.
    2. Set your phone on the table in front of you, and don’t check it. Notice what it feels like to want to check your device. Notice anything that comes up if your device buzzes or beeps. Noticing your urge to check your device can help you determine whether you’re acting from need or habit. If you’re checking your phone from habit, consider making some changes!
    3. Whatever you’re doing, do only that one thing. Experiment with only walking, or only waiting at the bus stop. If you are watching television, keep your phone in a different room and only watch television. If you are eating lunch, only eat lunch. And if you are looking at Facebook, only look at Facebook (i.e. do your best not to have 50 different screens open!).
    4. Consider installing an app that monitors your phone usage… just to see. It’s hard to assess just how much we are using technology – largely because our consumption is omnipresent. While multiple apps allow you to monitor and control your kids’ screen time, learning how much you use your phone can be invaluable as well. One free app called “Moment” does just that.
    5. Set limits to your use. Consider writing a “Mindful Use of Technology Contract” that dictates when you’ll use technology. Decide at the outset how many hours you’d like to devote to screen time, and then do your best to hold yourself to your standard. Check in with yourself as you go. Only check emails at certain points in the day (e.g. once an hour, during work hours). Leave your phone in your pocket/purse during meals. If a text conversation requires more than two exchanges, consider calling instead.

    Technology continues to evolve and with this evolution comes improved accessibility, which has advantages and disadvantages. Take advantage of your ability to practice mindful awareness around your usage patterns so that other priorities in your life don’t suffer.

    Resources

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