How using your digital devices can impact the health of others.

family relationships Feb 17, 2018

You know how horrible and harmful secondhand smoke is? Even if you’re not the person smoking, it’s been scientifically proven how badly you are affected when you are near someone who is. Well, it looks like technology is also having a negative impact on the people around us when we’re glued to our digital devices. Now, before you call me crazy, let me clarify—not all the effects are physically dangerous. Some are merely annoying but many can actually be harmful from a mental health standpoint.

Most people have heard of the term phubbing by now. It refers to snubbing someone when you’re paying attention to your phone instead of the person you’re with. Sadly, it’s become quite common, to the point where we expect it to happen quite regularly. But it’s a still an unpleasant experience to feel alone while in the company of others. This behaviour has been proven to impact the self-esteem of the person being phubbed, leaving them annoyed,...

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The benefits & limitations of a digital detox.

social media unplugging Jan 31, 2018

My husband and I had a lovely, relaxing four-day getaway last week. We took a ferry to Vancouver Island and spent our time nose-deep in books, laughing over meals with friends and walking through rainy forests. All in all, it was delightful—and not one bit of it was documented on Facebook. In part, this was because we’d agreed to do a Facebook detox while we were away. Although we’ve both reduced the time we spend on social media somewhat, over the past few months, I was curious to see what it would be like if we cut the ties more formally for a specified period of time.

Heading into our trip, I assumed we would find it more difficult than we did. We each thought about checking into Facebook a few times over the four days but we didn’t. In some ways, I was surprised at how rarely we did think of it and then, when we did, how easy it was to resist. But, I should have known that our Facebook detox would not be as challenging as it could have been. Why is that?...

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How I solved my email obsession & improved my productivity.

productivity work Jan 23, 2018

I was a little obsessed by email. Okay, maybe more than a little. It had been growing over the years but I hadn’t done anything about it. Between checking, reading and sending emails frequently throughout the day, I knew I was wasting a lot of time. Not to mention all the interruptions it was creating. And those interruptions were seriously impacting my productivity. This was no longer something I could afford to ignore.

I’m not alone with this problem. In 2017, the average office worker received about 120 emails per day and sent about 40 per day. Assuming we spend just one minute per email, that adds up to over 2 1/2 hours of email a day. An even scarier thought is that emails are projected to grow by another 20 per day in 2018! So, I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns and find a way to improve my email habits and, hopefully, my productivity.

I started by reducing the amount of email I receive. I had numerous email subscriptions that were cluttering up my...

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Why technology’s makers don’t want to be its users.

social media Jan 02, 2018

You know that part in the movie, when the protagonist is served food or drink by someone who clearly won’t touch it themselves? We all know what comes next if the protagonist actually consumes it.  Something very bad will happen to them. 

This warning sign could be applied to other scenarios. Imagine if you had an architect design a house for you but they refused to enter it when it was complete. Would you be hesitant or nervous about living there? I think some would find that concerning and look for ways to validate the safety and integrity of their new home.

Let’s consider yet another situation. What if the people who design social media went on record saying it “exploits human vulnerability” and “you don't realize it but you are being programmed"? Does that raise any concerns for you? If so, how much? Enough to make you rethink your use of social media?

This last situation isn’t one I made up. There have been numerous tech insiders...

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Two words of advice for increasing your productivity at work.

productivity work Nov 28, 2017

It happened yet again last week. I sent someone a short email, about five sentences long with four dates and times I was available to meet with them. They replied, choosing a morning on one of the dates I had included. The problem was, all the options I had provided were afternoons. So, I wrote back, advising I couldn’t meet then but was free that afternoon and they sent another email confirming that worked for them. Now, this isn’t a huge deal but our exchange ended up being two emails longer than it needed to be because of a small missed detail.

I find this type of thing happens all the time, in both written and spoken conversations. People asking questions that have already been answered. People repeating the same thing multiple times. People mixing up information. And when you measure the impact of this over the countless emails, telephone and in-person conversations we have, it adds up to a lot of time wasted. But I have a solution for this persistent, frustrating...

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The one thing that will boost your creativity.

creativity work Oct 31, 2017

Dave woke up to his alarm and hit snooze. After repeating this three times, he finally grabbed his phone and sat up to greet the day. He looked at the latest weather and headlines, exchanged texts with his girlfriend, played a few rounds of his favorite game and then rolled out of bed to get ready for work. The subway was busier than usual so he tucked into a corner and caught up on his social media feeds. When he arrived, he scanned the large open office, filled with rows and rows of desks. Most people were already fixated on their computer screens, many wearing headphones to combat the constant din in the room. He settled into his workstation, opened his laptop and went online. He noticed with a sense of dread that he already had twenty new emails, five marked urgent, and a bunch of questions on the team messenger app. Everyone was asking about his progress on the latest project he’d been assigned. But he was having a tough time with this one. He just couldn’t seem to...

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How to use social media on vacation and still stay present.

social media Oct 07, 2017

Vacations are a wonderful way to take a break from our everyday lives and experience something new and different. And, with the help of technology, we can now easily share our adventures with others from almost anywhere in the world. But at what point does our sharing detract from the richness of the experience we are seeking? Over the last few years, I think I finally reached that point.

I always take my camera with me when I go away so I was shocked to realize I’d forgotten to pack it when we went to Japan a couple of years ago. It turned out alright though, as I had my iPhone and the camera app did a fine job of capturing everything I wanted. Having all my photos on my smartphone made it so easy to share what we saw and did on social media throughout the day. It was great for keeping everyone up to date and I loved reading people’s reactions. Forgetting my camera turned out to be a blessing, I thought.

So when we went to China last year, I purposely left my camera...

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The impact of technology on our kids.

families Aug 24, 2017

There is no denying that our digital world is impacting our children. But what is up for debate is whether the consequences are good or bad. Opinions differ widely among researchers, educators, parents and other caregivers. Two articles recently published offer interesting yet different points-of-view on the subject of technology and how it affects kids. This is a healthy debate and one I hope grows in audience and scope. However, I think it is also important to talk about how to effectively manage technology across generations, as it becomes more pervasive in our every day.

The first article, published in The Atlantic, set off alarm bells for many readers. The author, Jean M. Twenge, identified a group she called iGen which includes those born between 1995 and 2012. She states that this group is “…on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades” and that “much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.” Her analysis of the teenage...

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One thing the iPhone can't replace.

relationships Jul 26, 2017

It was only 10 years ago when Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. Nobody can deny its impact on our world since, in ways we never imagined. Look at all the things the iPhone and other smartphones have replaced - simple items such as the calculator, clock and flashlight. And many more that it has not just replaced but significantly improved, such as calendars, maps and cameras. For many people, it has even replaced their need for a computer. It’s incredible to think that we now carry all this utility around in a device so small it fits in a pocket. No wonder we find it so convenient and invaluable. One would think that everything is better on a smartphone but it’s not. No matter how amazing technology is, it can be more of a hindrance than a blessing for relationships.

If you go through life with your eyes glued to your smartphone, you will fail to notice opportunities to connect with people around you. This article illustrates how putting your phone away can lead to...

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Three buffet strategies that can help cut back screen time.

Uncategorized Jun 23, 2017

Imagine walking into a restaurant and seeing the biggest buffet ever. There are tables and tables of food, as far as you can see. And they are covered with everything imaginable - from American BBQ to Indian curries, from fresh and healthy to sinfully decadent, and everything in between. You see so many of your favourite dishes and many others that are unfamiliar but tempting all the same. And best of all, it’s all-you-can-eat! Now what do you do?

Most people would dive right in, start with a little of this and a little of that until their plate is practically overflowing. Then they would go back for more, plate after plate, because it tastes so good and there are so many options, until they leave having overeaten and feeling disgusting. What starts out as an enjoyable experience could easily turn into a gastronomic nightmare.

I liken this experience to the Internet. Instead of food, it offers an unlimited amount of information on an all-you-can-eat basis. It’s up to us...

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