Technology is amazing! Connections around the world, advancements in a lot of different industries, constant contact with our friends and loved ones – all of these things are really great.
But there is also a bad side to technology, which I’m sure many of you know. The internet can be a very scary place. There are hackers, stalkers, strangers etc. And our technology connects us right to the internet.
And although all that is bad, the internet is not the worst thing that technology has given us, the worst thing that technology has given us is an addiction. How many people do you see in a day who aren’t on their phones or on their computers? The answer is, not many.
There was an article I read, called “Too Much of a Good Thing: Investigating the Association between Actual Smartphone Use and Individual Well-Being. Now, the authors of this article looked at many different studies and found that 81 percent of Americans have their smartphones on the entire day. 81 percent. The population of the USA is 325.7 million, so 81 percent of that is 263.8 million. How crazy is that? We even spend more time on our phones than we do sleeping.
All this time on our technology is harming us, and that’s a fact. In the same article, they found that addictive smartphone use leads to lower levels of subjective well-being, including more stress, anxiety and depression, and less satisfaction with life.
One of the benefits of technology, which I mentioned before, is that we are always connected to our friends and family. That same pro can also be a con, because that constant connection can lead to stress.
The cause of all this, is technology. It has affected every aspect of our lives, from our social lives to our mental health.
As mentioned in the article, smartphone use is like the paradox of technology. Using our phones is both freeing and enslaving at the same time. We have all the freedom to connect, find information, and communicate, but at the same time, we are chained to our phones.
So what causes all this? The answer is not crystal clear. Why we spend so much time on our phones is unknown. I mean, we know that technology is addicting, but what motivates us to start spending so much time on our phones? One answer could be that we are lonely in real life, leading us to spend all our time online.
Another could be that we are dependent on our technology, and it makes us feel safer to be behind a screen than in real life. When was the last time you confronted someone in person? Probably a very long time ago. The fact is, we think that technology helps us, so we spend more time on it, and in turn, become too dependent on it and don’t let it leave our eyesight.
I’m going to tell you a little story about my life. I, like many other teenagers my age, am pretty much addicted to technology. My phone is always on me, in fact I have it with me right now. I’ve gotten a little better over the years, but still, an addiction is hard to break. At one point, it got so bad that I was staying up until 5 am, sleeping in till 1 pm; it was not a great way to live. My parents had to get a new wifi where they could control what time I accessed the Wi-Fi at, and they could turn it off for certain users. At the time, I did not think that was good, I thought they were trying to ruin my life by not letting me have access to the Wi-Fi. Just thinking about that now, I can’t help but laugh.
Now, eventually I got better, and my parents let me have free reign with the wifi again, but still, I can’t believe myself now that I got to a point like that. For me, technology is like dessert, I know that if I have too much that it’s bad for me, but I can’t help myself because I want it so badly.
So switching up the direction here, I’ve told you about the facts and statistics about technology, and how it affects us, and now I’m going to tell you how to help break the pattern of addiction.
One of the ways that I found helps me, is plugging my phone in at night across the room, or even in a different room. This limits the time that you can spend on your phone when you’re about to go to sleep and can even help you get a better sleep. I’m sure that all of you have heard that the blue light that our technology emits is horrible for our sleep pattern. So, eliminating the phone before you’re about to go to sleep leads to a better sleep.
Another problem that I have is that I tell myself that I’ll only go on my phone to check one thing. I never end up checking only one thing, and that really delays my progress in doing homework and projects. A solution that I found works for that is I set a timer on my phone for about 5 minutes, sometimes more or less, depending. And as soon as that timer goes off, I put my phone away and get back to work. I have found that this really helps when I keep getting distracted by my phone because it limits the amount of time I can spend on it.
I also have my notifications turned off for social media such as Snapchat and Instagram. I have found that turning those notifications off, while it was hard at first, has actually made me happier. I went through a little time where something was always wrong with me and I couldn’t figure out what it was. One day, I decided to turn off my notifications, because I’ve been trying to use my phone less, and I found that I felt more free. I could check my social media when I wanted to, not when other people wanted me to.
One thing that works really well for my friends and I when we go out to eat is we all put our phones in the middle of the table and the first one to pick theirs up has to pay. This has worked so well that we never have to pay for anyone else’s meals, just our own.
Something that I want to try in the future is leaving my phone at home when I go out. I’ve been too scared to do it in the past because I am just so dependent on my phone, but now, I feel like I really do want to do it. I understand that there are probably some safety concerns with going out without a phone, but there are many situations in which a phone is just not needed at all.
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