Without technology, where would humankind be today? Since many of our waking hours are spent bathed in the blue-white glow of an LCD screen, does this mean humans rely on technology too much? As part of a study conducted for a major financial institution, it was intriguing to discover the statistics and facts about technology’s effect on the world. This article gives 5 tips on improving your relationship with technology.
While there are no right and wrong answers to the question of how much technology is too much, there is a balance that most humans find difficult to achieve. Technology has invaded – or enhanced – almost every aspect of daily human life, from financial transactions to social interaction, entertainment, career, shopping, and the list goes on. The recent statistics show, 63 percent of participants agree that technology enhances the quality of their life overall (Figure 1).
I love you but I hate you
One interesting part of the study was the conflict expressed by the participants. Not in the agreement that technology enhances the quality of their overall life, where there was an average agreement of 7.8 (on an agreement scale of 1 to 10, where 1 was completely disagreed, and 10 completely agreed). Overwhelmingly, no matter the location, age, or gender, there was no average below 7.4.
The real conflict was regarding the time the average person spent on their device(s). For instance, the average person spent over four hours on a typical weekday (86%) or weekend day (69%). Many people indicated, however, that they would rather spend far less time (Figure 2). This leads us to our first tip:
Tip #1 – Declare Tech-Free Zones or Times
Consider tech-free areas, activities, or hours; for instance, the dinner table could be declared a tech-free zone to encourage family interaction and conversation. Another tech-free time zone could be one hour before bed, which The National Sleep Foundation says has a negative effect on our sleep.
Not for All the Money
The saying linking time and money holds true through the study, and most people will agree that they have more free time because of technology. Think about the basic apps, calendars, and reminders we all use every day to off-load cognitive tasks. We also use technology to search and verify information, manage our daily workload, cultivate personal relationships, and much more.
When asked to put a price on the value of technology in their daily lives, a majority of the survey participants were at six figures and up (Figure 3). Over one-third of the participants put a value of $100,000 and almost as many people would. Just over half of the participants disagreed with a statement that technology has caused more hurt to the world than helped it (Figure 4). The fact remains, most survey respondents felt that technology has improved their lives in many ways (Figure 5).
Tip #2 – Use Your Time Wisely
Do not think of the time you spend on your device in a negative way. Instead, make sure that you are using technology to better yourself, your life, and the lives of those around you. The same is true for tech-free time – if you want to spend more time taking walks or hikes, in the gym working on fitness, or catching up on your favorite television program (Figure 6), set aside some tech-free time to accomplish those goals.
Under the Bridge
When asked which technology they wished never existed, the overwhelming standout was social media. With so many users having negative experiences online including false rumors, cyberbullying, and the like, social media carries its own risks. No wonder so many families – and employers – have instituted their own rules on social media behavior and monitoring.
In recent years, young adults have reported the increase of mental disorders, which correlates with the popularity of social media. It is not certain that these two situations are related to each other; in fact, some studies have shown an improvement in mental health with the use of social media. Others point to social media as the cause of anxiety-related mental illness, especially in young adults.
Tip #3 – Take Charge
Fill your home screen, news feeds, and other areas of initial engagement with positive stories, images that inspire you, and information that matters to you. If you find yourself constantly upset or depressed by something or someone, unfollow them. The door swings both ways; be a positive influence yourself and you will find out that you reap what you sow online as well as in life.
Not All Heroes Wear Capes
Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? Highly sedentary lifestyles such as those spent behind a desk increase the chances of developing cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more. Combine this with unhealthy food options and you have a true cause for concern. Taking breaks throughout the day to walk, stretch, and just look away from your computer screen can all be beneficial.
Remember the 20-20-20 rule – it is still valid. Avoid dry eye, headaches, and migraines by standing up every 20 minutes, looking at a fixed object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This recommendation reduces eyestrain and gives the added bonus of refocusing and making you more productive when you sit back in front of the screen for more work time. Big problems with easy fixes and technology can help.
Tip #4 – Make it Work
Use that powerful device in your hand to work for you, not against you. There are apps available for just about every concern, goal, and dream so make a list of self-improvements and hit the app store. In no time, you will be breathing better, getting up and walking every 20 minutes or so, and even sleeping better all thanks to an app. Life changes fast in the digital age, so put technology to use for your own benefit.
The Third Wheel
You know your partner deserves your full attention, but putting down the smartphone is not easy. People in long-distance relationships rely on technology to stay connected through texts, video calls, and tweets. When it comes to interacting face-to-face, it is definitely a time to put away the technology. Technology that comes between two people in a relationship can cause resentment or even break a couple up.
Couples that already have other problems in their relationship can often find them exacerbated with excessive use of technology. A lack of trust, for instance, could lead one person to read the other’s emails and texts. Partners who have tuned-out of a relationship may fixate on their phone to cover up their dissatisfaction in the relationship. Technology, however, does not have to be a wedge between you.
Tip #5 – Practice Transparent Communication
In addition to declaring tech-free zones and times, as discussed in Tip #1, use tech time as a couple to give both parties a more positive experience and establish trust. For example, playing an interactive game together on smartphones gives each partner more positive relationship thoughts. But don’t overuse the technology; communicating through a medium that doesn’t have visual cues on emotions and feelings can be exhausting for both parties.
We hope these 5 Tips on improving your relationship with technology were useful to you, as they were for our client. The professional iResearch Services team is delighted to collaborate with global brands on projects like this one to gather data, analyze the market, and share our findings in a meaningful way. In publishing these five tips, we hope they will lead you to your own perfect balance between real life and technology.