If you have been scrolling on the internet recently, you would have likely seen your newsfeeds buzzing about the latest Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma”. The documentary examines our relationship with the internet, featuring interviews with tech experts who have previously worked everywhere from Facebook to YouTube. And they all share the same message in regard to social media having an increasingly damaging impact on humanity (Avison, P. & Mercado, M., 2020).
The documentary serves as a healthy reminder to all of us that it is necessary to take a step back from the internet. As the development of technology and the internet have made us much more vulnerable to their addictive nature. Hence, it is crucial to ensure that we have full control over our usage and understand the precautions we can take to protect ourselves from the possible addiction to our gadgets.
The first step in doing so is to be aware of the proactive steps that we all can take to manage our technology use so that we do not end up being in a state that we are unable to live a second without our gadgets.
Tips for managing technology use
Turn off notifications
Most of us have our phones or laptops set to beep or buzz whenever a new email, text or social media notification comes in. Some tips for keeping technology from distracting our productivity would be to turn off selected notifications, turn down the volume, schedule response times and develop a personal emergency notification system (APA. 2017). If there is someone who needs your attention right away, you can ask them to text or call you directly. This approach will allow you to manage technology instead of allowing technology to manage you.
Digital technology and social media make it easy to stay in touch, but they can distract you from connecting with the people you are with in real life. Face-to-face interactions are important for emotional well-being (APA. 2017), we humans are social beings after all. Hence, when you are with your friends and family, make an effort to unplug from technology use so that you can be present in the moment. If you find it difficult, silence your phone or put it out of reach during your time with your friends and family, that way you would be able to avoid the temptation of having to constantly check your devices.
Take time to recharge
Quiet time to think is important for relaxing, reflecting and even for boosting creativity (APA. 2017). But if you are grabbing your phone every time you have a spare moment to fill, you will be missing out on those opportunities to recharge.
Try to set one hour each day to disconnect (Adventist Health, 2019), it may be difficult at first, but over time you will start reaching from your phone less and less and grow to value those moments of peace. One tip is to keep gadgets away during bed time. A study has shown that using gadgets at night can interfere with the quality of your sleep. This is because gadgets emit “blue light” which affects the production of the sleep-related hormone melatonin. Another reason is that the content itself is often stimulating, it can make your mind start spinning at a time it should be winding down (Murdock, Horissian, & Crichlow, 2017).
Changing your focus
It is important to note that different people experience the use of the internet differently. For example, if you are accessing the internet to find specific information for school or work, your experience is likely to be very different than someone who is logging in to address boredom (Robinson & Smith, 2020).
If you focus on your motivations as to why you are logging on in the first place, this will help you reduce the time you spend on the internet. but also improve your experience and avoid many of the negative aspects.
Passively scrolling through post or anonymously following the interaction of other on social media does not provide meaningful sense of connection (Robinson & Smith, 2020). Therefore, the next time you log on, pause for a moment and ask yourself “what am I on the internet for?” And if you are using the internet and social media as a substitute for filling your time, there are healthier alternatives for that such as, going on walks, playing Sudoku, doing crossword puzzle, or word search . Using the internet may be quick and convenient, but there are often healthier, more effective ways to satisfy that cravings. Remember, technology is just a medium. What is communicated and how it is being used are not determined by the gadget itself, but by us, the Users (Wong & Ng, 2020). Hence, we have the power to control technology instead of being controlled by technology
Camellia Wong, MA., Demi Ng
American Psychological Association. (2017, November 1). Connected and content: Managing healthy technology use. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/healthy-technology-use
Avison, P. & Mercado, M. (2020, September 18). 7 Easy ways to detach yourself from social media. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/life/144893-7-ways-to-stop-your-social-media-addiction
Adventist Health. (2019, March 14). The benefits of unplugging from electronics. Retrieved from https://www.adventisthealth.org/blog/2019/march/the-benefits-of-unplugging-from-electronics/
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Murdock KK, Horissian M, Crichlow-Ball C. Emerging Adults’ Text Message Use and Sleep Characteristics: A Multimethod, Naturalistic Study. Behav Sleep Med. 2017 May-Jun;15(3):228-241. doi: 10.1080/15402002.2015.1120203. Epub 2016 Jan 20. PMID: 26789207.
Robinson, L. & Smith, M. (2020, September). Social Media and Mental Health. Retrieved from
Wong, C & Ng, D. (2020, September 30). Technology and its impact on one’s mental health. Retrieved from https://www.inpsychful.sg/technology-mental-health/