Most of us these days are pretty wired.

We have our laptops, our smart phones, our Kindles and Nooks, iPods and iPads.

Technology is often seen as being a way to connect with people: we can Skype with far away friends and relatives, chat on Facebook, find friends we haven’t seen in years.

We can hear in minute detail the daily happenings of near strangers.

But do these things which seem to make us close, actually make us more distant from one another?

I see families out to dinner, and each member is completely engaged with their own electronic device.

Moms and Dads are increasingly using electronics to entertain young children, even infants.

Friends stop mid-conversation to answer their phone, or laugh at a text. Couples on dates are not immune – when conversation lapses, smart phones come out.

Everyone, it seems, is plugged in.

I am a big user of technology. I operate a paperless office, I rely on email and text messages to communicate, I use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn on a daily basis.

As a parent I know how easy it is to hand a crying child an iPad to keep her entertained during a wait at the dentist.

I can also see firsthand the disappointed look on my child’s face when she says “watch me!” and I’m engrossed in yet another funny YouTube video.

When out with friends, I’m guilty of checking email. Constantly. And I’m beginning to really understand the mental and emotional barrier that a device the size of my hand can erect.

Technology, while seeming to connect us to one another and to the world, can do the exact opposite. Instead of engaging with the people we are with, we become distracted by a screen. Watch two people who are physically together but in their own electronic worlds, and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m not one to reminisce about the good old days. I like my technology. It allows far away family members to watch my child grow up, it helps me to keep in contact with friends thousands of miles away.

I also realize that, like everything else in life, technology requires limits.

I don’t want my life to be a mess of ringtones, vibrations and pings. I don’t like feeling as if I’m obligated to be attached to my phone or computer every.single.minute of every day.

My life is calling out for balance. Is yours? Here are some things that can help:

  1. Be engaged in the world around you. If you’re walking with your spouse, be present. If you’re playing catch with your kid, don’t check your phone every few minutes.  Enjoy the silence, the conversation, the scenery. Everything outside of the moment can wait.
  2. Spend some time each day unplugged. It may be at dinner, or when you’re watching your kid ride his bike, or when you have coffee with your best friend. Don’t check to see if you have a text. Don’t answer the phone if it rings.
  3. Remember, technology is meant to work for us, not to take over our lives. It can be exhausting to think you have to answer every text the moment it comes in, or read and respond to every email within minutes, or even hours.

As technology continues to evolve, we must evolve with it. And part of that means we need to be able to set our own limits on how we use it.

So go, shoo, get off your computer, put away your phone. Wake up. Life is waiting to be lived.

 

 

photo of young women from Shutterstock
photo of mother and child from Shutterstock

 


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    Last reviewed: 7 Jul 2012

APA Reference
Harmon, J. (2012). Is Technology Taking Over Your Life?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 28, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/your-life/2012/07/is-technology-taking-over-your-life/

 

 

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