They are all around us.
Among our family and friends.
At work and at school.
In our living rooms and bedrooms.
Driving cars and walking the streets,
some are more obvious than others.
But I see them.
Maybe you see them too.
They are trapped,
often for hours.
Lifeless and lost to us.
They’re adrift in that other world.
The one that held so much promise.
A better life,
we were told.
But the value it delivers is fleeting.
The consequences are not.
We reach out,
hoping to connect with them.
They try to reply
but can’t tear their eyes from the screen.
Their attention is no longer theirs to focus.
They’re stuck in an endless loop,
one designed to hijack our minds.
They / we are digital zombies.
If I told you about someone who was stressed or anxious if they didn’t have a bottle of alcohol with them constantly, would you think they have a problem? What if I said they couldn’t go to the bathroom or to bed without it? What if it was a pack of cigarettes instead? Or some other socially-identified drug? Would you be concerned about their health and wellbeing?
Rightly so, I think most of us would think that person has some issues that need to be dealt with. But for some reason we don’t seem to feel the same way if it’s a smartphone that person can’t be without. Being attached to a smartphone may sound trivial but some people are willing to go to some surprising extremes to keep their phones with them at all times.
Nomophobia is shorthand for ‘no-mobile-phone phobia’ and yes, it is a real thing. The term was coined in 2010 during a research study on the anxieties of smartphone users, commissioned by the UK Post Office. Back then, they...
I interviewed the new CEO of Moment last week. In case you don’t know, Moment is an app designed to combat smartphone addiction by measuring your usage. It tracks the amount of time you spend on your phone, the number of times you pick it up and which apps you use the most.
I’ve been using Moment for almost 2 years now. A few weeks ago, I received an email announcing Moment’s new version, subscription service and CEO – Tim Kendall, formerly of Facebook and Pinterest. I was intrigued by their new CEO’s career path. How does one go from heading up companies that encourage people to spend time online to running one focused on helping people reduce the time they spend online? I decided to ask him that question myself.
I found out that becoming a parent was the catalyst for Tim’s career about-face. “I started getting personally affected by this issue of phone and device addiction about 2 to 3 years ago,” he said. “I was President of...
The holidays are supposed to be a blissful time of year but many people find themselves feeling stressed, isolated and sad. Our relationship with technology can contribute to this holiday malaise, given the amount of time we spend online and distracted. I wish we could change this just by saying “put your phone away and do something else” but I know that can be a struggle for some. If you find that’s the case, here are some activities that can reduce stress, strengthen your connection with others and hopefully bring you some joy during the festive season. You might need your devices to help organize some of them but all the good stuff happens offline. Happy holidays!
Wander for a While
We try to cram in so much in December that we end up racing from place to place and rushing all the time. How about taking time out for a walk? It doesn’t have to be long—10 minutes or more out of your day (or night). There should be no agenda, nothing to achieve except...
In case you haven’t heard yet, Apple held its annual developers’ conference in early June. They announced some new features in iOS 12, which launches this Fall, that will “help you limit distractions, focus, and understand how you're spending your time," according to Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering. But how much can they really help, given our current obsession with screens?
The new features include a tool called Screen Time—a dashboard that will provide data on your iPhone and iPad usage. It will show you how much time you spend on each individual app and across various categories of apps, both daily and weekly. You will also see how many notifications you received and how many times you picked up your device. It will even allow you to set daily limits on how much time you want to spend on specific apps.
Apple is also improving the Do Not Disturb feature. You will be able to block calls, texts and notifications from everyone except your VIP list,...
A local coffee shop has been getting a lot of attention due to their recently imposed weekend laptop ban. The owner cites two reasons for such severe measures. The first being a lack of seating for patrons during their busiest days, which results in lost revenue for the cafe. The second being the antisocial environment created by a room full of individuals wearing headsets and staring at screens for hours at a time. In addition to the ban, the cafe is also limiting use of their Wi-Fi to a half-hour per customer per purchase. Not surprisingly, these changes are receiving mixed reviews from customers.
Restaurants and cafes have been navigating the positives and negatives of our growing digital connectivity for a number of years. On the one hand, the popularity of sharing food and décor photos on social media has helped many establishments grow their business. However, the realities of our device-obsessed culture has also impacted the experience of customers and staff alike in a...
There’s been so much written in the past year about how much time we are spending online. There’s also been a ton written about how unhealthy it is and how important it is for us to cut back on our screen time.
But, for all the evidence and discussion, many people still aren’t making any changes. For those who want to do something about their screen time but don’t know where to start, I have some thoughts to share based on my own journey.
There are three essential things I think are required if you seriously want to reduce your time online.
1. Identify Your ‘Why’
In order to change behavior, it’s key to have a motivating reason. For me, it was because of books.
I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. I love getting lost in stories and, although it’s not always easy to find the time, there’s nothing I love more than spending an hour or more with a book.
A few Christmases ago, I sat down...
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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