The phrase “tech diet” has been flying around a lot in recent weeks – it seems there is a growing appetite for people to find new ways to cut down on their device usage. Social media is a particular pain point for most people, with the average adult losing nearly two hours a day to social media. While it may be tempting to lock away your phone and unplug the broadband, the inevitable truth is technology is an ingrained part of our daily routine. What really matters isn’t the time you spend on your devices, but what you use that time for.
Few would argue that mindlessly scrolling through social media is in any way life-enriching. In fact, overusing social media leads to further addiction and can come paired with even more unpleasant side effects, such as low self-esteem and unhealthy sleeping patterns. The trick to taking a true tech diet is about evaluating when, why and how you use your devices. Once you’ve done that, you can effectively adjust your tech consumption to achieve a better, healthier relationship. Here’s how you can get started:
Our devices come with us everywhere – whether you’re going to work or popping to the corner shop, chances are you’re carrying your phone. But having your device with you doesn’t mean you have to check it. The reason most people use their phones while waiting in a queue or when they’re bored at work is because they’ve created a habit. This probably isn’t even your fault – social media is notorious for having been built with addictive functions in mind. A byproduct of this is the constant urge to scroll and check notifications wherever you are.
The good news, however, is that habits can be broken. If you can make a conscious effort to put your phone away and engage in something else, you’re one step closer to breaking the addiction. Habits are formed on a reward basis – in the case of social media, this comes from the small dopamine hits you receive every time you go through your notifications, likes or interact with a new post. But, there are rewards that come with putting your phone away, too. Maybe you’ll strike up a conversation while waiting for your coffee, notice what a lovely day it is or be hit with a great new idea. Making an active effort to be present and in the moment will open your mind to possibilities you never could have thought of while lost in the depths of Facebook.
Technology exists to make our lives easier. The amount of power which is instantly accessible to us is unfathomable; modern smartphones contain more advanced tech than the rocket that put a man on the moon. You probably didn’t buy your laptop, tablet or phone with the intention of using it to spend all your time playing Candy Crush or endlessly checking Twitter, but alas, here you are.
This begs the question, why are you using your technology? Unless an over-active use of social media was your intended goal, you’re probably not putting that much thought into it. As easy as it is to see your favourite device as a cure for boredom, reframing your thinking may work wonders. Try to see your phone (or other devices) as something you’re using to actively do something. Maybe from time-to-time that is socializing, or catching up on messages – but the rest of the time, leave it alone unless you have a purpose. Contemplating the why before you do may just take away the mindlessness that comes with using addictive apps.
So, how exactly are you using your devices? Most the time, we’re not entirely sure of our precise purpose and pick up our phone or tablet without really thinking. If you do this, then it’s time to consider how you can utilize your tech for the better. Apps and software aren’t inherently distracting or useless – in fact, there are plenty which may just add something to your life.
Downloading an audiobook app allows you to listen to your favourite books while on your morning commute. Apps like Duolingo are a fun, interactive way of starting to learn a new language – how is that for building a positive habit by using your phone? Our very own iMindMap (both software, and app) is the perfect way to get down not only existing ideas, but spark new and more creative thoughts for improved cognitive function. That’s something you’d never get from Instagram. Whatever your taste, finding apps to enhance – rather than detract – from your quality of life, is the perfect way to kickstart your tech diet.