Tips to Balance Technology Usage

Should We Start Taking Our Tech-Life Balance More Seriously?

If you spend most of the day glued to an electronic screen, then it’s time for you to step back and reflect. Too much technology use can leave you feeling tired, stressed, overworked, and mentally exhausted. Stepping away from gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs, etc. is a simple solution but nonetheless can feel difficult to implement.

Technology, no doubt, is having a growing and indelible impact on our lives. But, how much of technology is really required? We often talk about work-life balance, but maybe, we should be talking about tech-life balance. In the age of Terabytes and Gigahertz, what’s the cost of not striking a balance between technology and life? For most of us, it’s very high and can have a significant toll on our work, relationships, health, and happiness.

We have already started to realize that excessive use of technology is affecting our personal connections and interactions. As a result, balancing technology use is the need of the hour. That doesn’t mean that we should completely shun the use of technology. Rather, it’s about being in control of our tech-life balance.

These simple tips will help you balance technology use:

1. Set a technology use policy

Think about your priorities and set a few policies that will help you stay connected with the people that matter the most to you. For example, family time is important for many of us, but, unfortunately, we don’t make it a priority. So, create a policy that limits the use of technology at the dinner table to encourage conversation. Another option is to turn off technology at a certain time. For instance, you can consider unplugging from technology an hour before going to bed to spend some quality time with your partner and help your brain begin to wind down and prepare to sleep.

2. Shut off technology at a specific time every day

Is technology invading your family time? Well, now is the time to reassess, shift your perspective and decide what’s really important –a chat with a virtual friend or a meaningful conversation with the people sitting next to you?  And to make that happen, you need to turn off your devices and let technology take a back seat to the people closest to you.

3. Create NO-TECH zones

Create technology-free zones where you and your family (or colleagues) will not use smartphones, tablets, TVs or other gadgets.  You can start with dining areas and other social areas and see how it works. Doing this will encourage more communication as well as activities unrelated to technology such as taking a walk, playing a game, or reading a book.

4. Stop taking technology too seriously

We all have a choice about how we manage our time and handle digital distractions. Often people blame their jobs for excessive technology use, but we need to evaluate our technology needs honestly and take responsibility for our actions. Maybe, instead of replying instantly to every email or checking every Facebook notification, put boundaries in place and only check your phones at a specific time during the day.

Why is this tech-life balance important?

It’s encouraging that we’ve started asking questions about balancing technology use because, without a tech-life balance, we can lose ourselves.  Many mental health professionals have asked whether our love for technology is destroying personal development and interactions, unfortunately, it is.

The tech-life balance is an important subject to internalize - it’s not just water cooler talk. Think about how it has impacted your life. You may not see it in yourself, look at those around you, the friend who can’t stop posting pics to Instagram, the child who would rather be on their phone than talk to their family. Look up, see your surroundings, watch the sunset. You don’t have to take a picture and post it - just enjoy it in the moment.

Is the constant use of technology harmful for our health? 

In many ways, regular use of technology is messing with our health mainly in the form of vision problems, insomnia, obesity, and hearing problems too.

  • Looking at your laptops, the TV, and cell phone screen is exhausting for our eyes and can result in dry eyes, blurry vision, and diminished eyesight.
  • Constant tech-indulgence such as staring at a bright screen for too long can cause headaches and dizziness too.
  • Continuous exposure to WiFi radiation from laptops and cell phones can affect fertility by lowering men’s sperm count. This is especially true for men who take the meaning of laptops a bit too literally and place them on their laps.
  • Excessive technology use, especially an hour or two before bedtime can disturb your natural sleep cycle. The light emitted from screens suppresses the production of Melatonin, a sleep hormone, and can delay sleep.
  • People who are addicted to technology often panic when they can’t find their gadgets within reach and don't know what to do when they don't have their devices.

It’s important to remember that there is more to life than our devices; connecting with others is important, especially with family and friends. We live in an age where most of us are comfortable with finding solutions online instead of using our own thoughts and judgment. Somehow, the over-dependence on technology, the never-ending desire for entertainment and the need for instant-gratification have hampered our capacity to think independently. If we were to take even just a little time away from our devices on a daily basis, our lives would be much richer.

It’s time for us to take back control of our lives and start balancing technology use.

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