The technology that we have created to enhance our lives has begun to change us. Currently the typical adult under the age of 45 uses four digital devices, and the average person in 2017 spends 90% more time their smartphone today than they did in 2013, that is a scarily fast rise in usage.
According to The Harvard Business review almost 60% of users check email in the bathroom; 15% read their email in church; and 85% say they would take their laptop on vacation. We are searching 40 Web sites a day; open 85% of work emails within two minutes; and switch between programs nearly 37 times an hour.
An Unhealthy Obsession
Aside from the information that has come to light this month about how this phone usage impacts our relationships, and particularly the mental health of our kids, the addictive use of digital media is impacting us at work, lessening our productivity and affecting our ability to make decisions.
Microsoft conducted a very interesting study which revealed that once an employee has been interrupted, by email, from the task at hand it takes a full 24 minutes to return to that task. Other studies have indicated that our IQ is lessened by 10 points by the existence of ringing phones and email notifications.
Our creativity is diminished by the amount of digital interruptions we receive according to Teresa M. Amabile of the Harvard Business School, and the constant stress of being available online reduces our ability to concentrate which reduces our productivity, which in turn causes us to feel even more stressed, according to Gloria Mark, a vicious cycle indeed.
The Information Overload Research Group has found that our digital distraction costs the US 1 trillion dollars per year. Jason Shiers – A Psychotherapist with www.recovery.org.uk says, ‘ It appears there is a substantial cost to addictive use of technology but there is also a human cost which cannot be ignored, the process that fuels technology addiction is utilising the same reward centres of the brain as opioid addiction, this kind of process always has consequences for the individual and for those around them.’
We ought to cultivate some mindfulness around how our phone/social media use is effecting us, our families and our productivity at work. It is not that we should stop our usage but we must at least be mindful of how our technology has begun to shape how we think, work and interact with each other. It may be beneficial if we are able to set ourselves boundaries, technology free time in the day, that way we will be able to be more present at work, for our loved ones and for our lives.