Throughout history, advances in technology have been all about making work easier and quicker so that we can spend our time on more important things. But with recreational technology use has come a steady decline towards centring our lives on technology rather than the more important things it should be helping us to enjoy.
Look Up (see below) recently enjoyed viral levels of popularity across the internet. Ironically shared, viewed, liked, retweeted, and favourited by millions, Gary Turk’s video shares an important message about the way we use technology today. If you haven’t seen it yet, do so right after reading this article, and then switch off whatever it is you’re reading it on.
The question of how we should use technology most healthily is impossible to give a definitive answer to. There are no official guidelines on how to incorporate Instagram into a healthy and varied lifestyle; nobody has told us how to avoid becoming fettered to Facebook; Twitter can easily take over if you don’t take a moment to stop and take in what’s going on off-screen.
With that in mind, here are our six steps to a tech-responsible lifestyle:
- Switch off at night.
Many of us are guilty of taking our tech everywhere we go, including our beds, and it isn’t doing our sleep cycles any good. When you go to bed, switching off your phone or tablet will help you to switch off too. Instead of holding out hope of receiving one last notification before you fall asleep, just wait until you wake up to see what’s come in overnight. If you can bear it, you could even eat a social breakfast before switching on again.
- Set ‘check-in’ times.
Checking and re-checking our tech for notifications that often aren’t there is a common procrastination technique, and apparently we’re doing it every six-and-a-half minutes. Tell yourself you won’t look more than once each hour, and stick to it – you’ll be more productive, less worried, and better at whatever you’re doing.
- Family time is phone-free time.
Using a mobile phone to have a private conversation whilst you’re supposedly socialising with your family or friends means you’re not actually interacting with the people you should know best. Swedish children complain that their parents spend too much time on their phones, and chances are that all children are noticing the trend too. When you’re spending time with the people you love, make the effort to give them that time completely. Switch off, or leave your phone somewhere you won’t worry about it and check it when you’re on your own again.
- Don’t Walk
Walking and texting is a dangerous combination. Making you act ‘like a robot’, the two activities combined mean you’re not really paying attention to what’s going on off-screen, and the accidents aren’t just trivial bumps in the street, either.
- Look around you.
Nature is everywhere, we’re a part of it, and it makes us happy. When you go outside, don’t rely on your smartphone to keep you company. Believe it or not, people spent a long time without the constant need for remote interactions. Take time spent outdoors to get your thoughts in order, to straighten out ideas, or just to appreciate what’s actually there.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Sometimes it’s difficult to think logically, but when we do we realise that getting that extra follower really isn’t so important – and a few extra likes on that picture of your breakfast? Pretty much worthless. Spending great amounts of time on mobile phones can lead to anxiety and unhappiness, and it’s mostly to do with things that just don’t matter. Instead of flicking through Facebook, try out a new recipe or go for a walk, and remember that your tech isn’t the be-all and end-all. You control it, and not the other way around.