Technology is great, isn’t it? I think many of us would say that technology is a great thing. However, what happens when it becomes a problem? Along with the leaps and bounds of technology there have come a multitude of problems. We have now become an increasingly screen addicted society that relies on social media, internet, streaming services, and online shopping to fulfill our deepest desires. In fact, we have become so addicted to our devices, that we will stop doing an important task just because a notification popped up on our phone.
As a therapist, I see a lot of conflict come up between parents and kids over time spent on the phone as well as time spent on other devices. The meltdowns and defensiveness that comes from these youngsters sends a loud and clear message that sounds like, “Don’t take away my phone, my life is in it!” While that example may sound humorous and cause the eye roll here and there, doesn’t that sound like almost every one of us at some point? If it does, then I’d say we have a major problem here.
Technology is, and always was, meant to be a tool. It wasn’t meant for us to spend hours and hours at a time on and creating a virtual existence where we can’t separate what is real from what is fake. We also weren’t meant to be constantly bombarded by a stream of negative information that we often see from media outlets from different online platforms. We also weren’t meant to trade real, living breathing people with fake/surface level relationships on the internet through social media or dating apps. Finally, we weren’t meant to always look at other people’s lives that they put on the internet and compare ourselves to them.
Now it may sound like I’m coming down on technology pretty hard, but please understand I don’t have anything against using it in moderation. It’s the overuse of it that can cause significant problems. Which is why I am firmly advocating for time at least once a day or at least once a week when people turn off and unplug their devices and do something else for a change. We need to strengthen our interests outside of the world of the internet, social media, and screens in order to be more balanced, healthy people. We also need to build up coping mechanisms outside of drowning our uncomfortable emotions by escaping into a game, YouTube, or binge-watching Netflix. Other coping mechanisms can involve exercising on a regular basis, developing a hobby such as painting or drawing, reading constructive books, or even taking a fun class. We can also take the time to improve our communication and real-life social skills by spending time with our loved ones and friends one on one, having meaningful conversations, volunteering out in the community, or even just being physically present with a loved one who is having a hard time. Yes, some of these coping strategies may sound elementary and really to do in theory but they are hard to do in real life. We have to be willing to get creative, be brave to face difficulty, and not always being quick to run to escapism in order to make these coping strategies work for us.
Turning off the technology can be difficult, but the benefits of taking a much needed mental, physical, and emotional break away from it can be worth it. It can also help us develop a healthy relationship with technology so it can have a more manageable place in our lives.