People bump into phone poles, knock into other people, trip into fountains and stumble off curbs – all glued to their phones.
At restaurants or even at dinner tables it is so quiet as everyone is texting, Googling and technology-ing; conversation is disappearing.
Many people have of what I call TDI (technology dependency issues). The have a tantrum if the Internet is down. They shriek if they are in place with spotty coverage. They will sell their souls for a cable or outlet to charge their phone in LBE (low battery emergency). I am not talking just about our kids – I see adults with this same behavior.
I love technology. Really I do. I love making deposits to my bank account and paying bills with my phone. I love getting the recipe of something amazing to learn its ingredients. I love seeing how my high school classmates look and what they are up to 40 years after graduation. Technology is amazing.
However, like eating a pound of M&Ms or the 2-pound Hershey’s chocolate bar, too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. Just because these treats come in these sizes, doesn’t mean they should be consumed that way. Just because you can use technology 24 hours a day, doesn’t mean you should. As Mary Poppins said to the Banks children, “Enough is as good as a feast.” I am sure she was also referring to technology.
How do we start to rein in some of the technology time that starts at the moment of waking and ends only with us falling asleep with our device in our hands?
Overall, you have to tell technology that you are the boss. It is tempting to let it be the boss – it is always available and always calling out to you to see the next video of this or the next post on Facebook of that. We are so afraid something will happen and we will miss it so we are in GTDS (glued to device syndrome). You have to detox and learn to see it for what it is – simply a tool.
3 Ways to Manage Your Technology Dependency
- Create technology free zones and/or times. Identify areas around the house/travel/work or times during the day where technology is not allowed. These can be at the table, when two people are talking (this works both ways – parents with kids and kids with parents), on a Saturday with good weather, at an event, at a meeting, when it is important to stay safe and pay attention to others (on the bus, at the mall, in public places, etc). You may choose that all technology stops (except for schoolwork) at dinner. You may hold fast to no technology on 1 day on the weekend. You may insist on a no-technology workplace meeting. Consider having a technology holding place (THP) where devices are left at taboo times. Share expectations with all family or workplace members; get commitment from everyone, then move on to #2.
- When you set up the rules, don’t bend them. Be firm in supporting the household/work rules about technology’s where and when. Make the rule, share the expectations, identify the consequences for violation and then hold fast to the rules. This includes everyone. Bending rules makes them useless.
- In the technology free zone, reconnect as people and reactivate your thinking. One of the greatest reasons to insist on a technology free time or zone is to reconnect to the art of conversation and learning again how to really connect, listen, invent and respond. Without the distraction of technology, we can be more tuned in and present in all of our communication – relationships improve. Without technology we are sent back to using our brains – to invent, create, imagine and dream. We get better at tuning in to ourselves; we hear our own voice instead of the voices of others. We get clear.
These tools are designed to help us learn how to incorporate technology in a productive and sane way in our lives. Like with the candy, we can binge on technology. Then, before we know it, we forget how to greet others, get home or add 2+9 without help. Ensure technology stays a tool – keep it in the right place. Do this for yourself, your employees and your family – there are “bingers” among us.
What can you do to help them (and yourself) maintain perspective and manage your technology addition?