The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter

Are you addicted to tech?

By Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo   |   06 May 2017   |   2:41 am


A week day evening, I am mindlessly staring at the television, trying to capture the essence of what the presenter was saying. I know I was keen to watch this show, I had booked it a week in advance, and for the five minutes I was attentively listening. Then a ping on my phone, followed by a beep, and you can guess what happened next. 15 minutes later, I have no recollection of what I have been watching.

I look down at my phone; strange, it has been only five minutes since I last checked it. The truth is, as much as I moan about the millennials glued to their phones every moment of every day, I have become just as bad.

I recently watched an interview with Toni Tones where she was asked which app she first checks first thing in the morning. “My Bible app,” she enthused, before sheepishly adding, “Sometimes… But mostly it is Instagram.” I felt a sudden urge to hug her, for all the times I have opened my eyes to a new day with every intention to begin the day right with a prayer and got side-tracked by the lure of finding out who’s showing off their avocado on toast, their latest designer buy or rental holiday villa.

According to a 2016 study by Dscout, the heaviest smartphone users click, tap or swipe on their phone 5,427 times a day. That’s the top 10 percent of phone users, so one would expect it to be excessive. However, the rest of us still touch the addictive things 2,617 times a day on average. No small number.

If, like me, you’re struggling to stay focussed, struggle with reading and reached for your phone the moment you woke up this morning, you may need to check these signs of tech addiction.

A new study examining the technology use of 2,000 American saw more than 48 percent state that their concentration and attention spans have dwindled rapidly in recent years.

Four in ten people describe themselves as someone who is ‘easily distracted’ – due to high levels of technology use and the desire to regularly check our phones.

Signs of shorter attention levels ranged from struggling to watch whole films or TV shows without touching their phone to more than half stating they can’t read a book for as long as they could without the need to look at a device.
 
The research by market researchers, OnePoll, commissioned by parental control app, OurPact, showed that one in four Americans (28 percent) claim to be addicted to their phones. In fact, 36 percent say they get accused of not paying attention by friends, family, and colleagues because they’re on their phone too much.

Fear not, in this case, wherever you are in the world, you are not alone in your struggle to concentrate and get on with the task at hand. According to clinical psychologist, Dr. Lisa Strohman, founder and director of the Technology Wellness Center, there are five key signs of tech addiction:
 
Your mobile phone is the first thing you reach for in the morning
You feel anxious if you can’t find your mobile
You plan vacations based on Wi-Fi access
You lose track of time while browsing online
Friends or acquaintances seem less important than your social media contacts
 
The signs may be helpful pointers for the three-quarters of millennials who say they wouldn’t be able to successfully get through their day without their smartphone, according to OurPact’s study.

It is not the millennials struggling either, even those of us on the other side of 30 would find it a challenge, along with the 72 percent of our American counterparts, to get through the day without our mobile phones.

Just think of the last time you had to remember a friend’s number? A few months back, after a night out, as I watch my mobile battery die, I was left stranded at the train station, with no way of reaching my husband. Even if I had been able to borrow a mobile phone or use a landline, it was no use as I had no recollection of the number I used to know by heart just a decade ago.
   
While apps such as OurPact app can monitor screen time, if you want to actively take a step towards balancing your time on and off line, Dr Strohman offers these 5 lifestyle tips.

 
Pick one day a week and unplug: ‘Tech free Tuesday’
Chose events like meals, sporting events etc. and keep your phone off
Make a schedule to check your phone – 1x an hour, 3x a day and stick to it
Log your use on an average day and track the screen time you have Keep the cell out of the bedroom. Use an alarm clock to replace the phone alarm

Having recognised my tech addiction some time mid-2015, I have since applied the first rule successfully over the weekends; on a Sunday, I try my best to keep away from my phone for the day, while on other days, I consciously track my screen time, not allowing myself to check my phone more than once an hour. A friend of mine who has a hectic schedule found that turning off notifications works best for her as she is not tempted to check her phone every time it beeps.

If you feel that in your haste to connect with the world, you’re getting more disconnected from your surroundings, why not join me this Sunday and take a break from your phone. And yes, this means, no Instagram posts of your Sunday brunch either!

 
 
 


In this article:
Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo


You may also like