If you were to spend a few hours in a mall or public place, you would find people of all ages with technology. A decade ago, if you did the same thing, you would probably see a few people with flip phones or pagers, but beyond that, you wouldn’t see much. Today, you will see everything from a Fitbit, to an IPad, to a smartphone on most people. Although the advances in technology have opened up endless amounts of opportunities and information for everyone, it has also created barriers between us. Many people now use technology for a crutch. We use it to look at Facebook or play Angry Birds when we are bored. We use it to Google information when we are too lazy to simply think about an answer. We use it when we are in an awkward situation and would rather pretend to be on our phone instead of facing the issue.
Although I do my best to use technology mindfully, I often find myself using technology as a crutch too. I’d be lying if I said that I had never chosen to pretend to look at my phone to avoid an awkward encounter, or if I said I’d never scrolled mindlessly through Facebook because it was easier than getting out and finding something better to do to entertain myself. At the same time, I do make a conscious effort to tune out of technology at time.
When I was in high school, you would never catch me without my phone. It was the first thing in my hand when I woke up in the morning and the last thing in my hand when I went to bed. During class, I would keep my phone in my pocket, at least until it went off. Then, I would sneakily try to hide it under my desk to reply to the text message, snapchat, etc. After years of constantly being on my phone, I finally had an epiphany. I was literally obsessed with my phone. I felt anxious and naked if I was without it (similarly to the students in this article). It was in this moment that I made the conscious effort to cut back. This doesn’t mean that I don’t carry my phone with me anymore, but I take time to unplug from my devices now too.
Being constantly connected to technology causes us to miss important things in life. We miss real life interactions with people. How many times do you find yourself hanging out with a friend or loved one and instead of talking or doing something, you just sit on your phone and scroll through Facebook? I know I do! Even though I’ve made steps to reducing my dependency on technology, there are still times when I should be more present or stop multitasking. For example, I’m really terrible about watching TV while I do homework. In addition, I often times reply to text messages or snapchat people while I’m at the dinner table with my family. Reading the videos and articles this week was the reminder I needed that although I don’t have quite the obsession with my phone that I used to, I still have a lot of work to be more mindful about my technology use.