Plugged in but tuned out.

The computing power you have in your smart device is greater than the  collective computing power that put a man in on the moon in 1969. For all the benefits, we have in this new world, there are is also a downside to too much screen time. There is always something to do on your device, and you can do it alone. You can see how other people are living in Facebook, witness our President rant and rage on Twitter, or take in funny cat videos on You Tube. Our society as a whole can get lazy on establishing real human to human connections. Essentially instead individuals are plugged in but tuned out. Boston Consulting Group shared an interesting study in 2015 about the intensity and addictive nature of mobile computing. Of 1,003 people surveyed, here are the things people would give up for a year rather than give their phone up for a week.

Limited Screen Time for Adults and Mobile Phone Addiction
• 54% would give up exercise.
• 63% would give up chocolate.
• 70% would give up alcohol.
• 23% would rather lose their wallet or purse than give up their cell phone.
• 38% would give up sex.

Truth is engaging on devices and social media is highly addictive. There are many studies that call out that engaging on social channels through your device releases dopamine. Dopamine is created in the brain and is critical to thinking, moving, sleeping, attention, motivation, seeking and reward. Dopamine increases your interest in seeking out information and keeps you motivated to learn and survive.

With the internet, social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you now have almost instant gratification. Want to talk to someone right away? Send a text and they respond in a few seconds. Get a conversation going start a group chat. Want to look up some information? Just type your request into Google or Bing and hit enter. Have you noticed that conversations now are regularly fact checked? Interrupted and paused to search the internet to confirm what was just said. As people travel to their work or run errands, it’s easy to dismiss others around you by looking at your phone in an elevator, sitting on a park bench or texting walking down the street.  It’s an escape hatch from everyday pleasantries.

So these habits can also creep into our personal social circles. To make the most of time together and driving better engagement with your friends, here’s a few tips to keep tech time in moderation:

  1. Recognize and appreciate tech free moments. A good barometer of a great time is when all phones are put away and people are engaging eyeball to eyeball in conversation.  Reinforce with your friends how great and satisfying times like this when you are connecting with each other not the phones.
  2. Be a good example to encourage others to put their phones away.  Make a statement.  “I’m glad to have the opportunity to see you guys today.  I want to treasure this time and put away my phone.”
  3. If there are situations where checking in on phones is necessary, do it at a scheduled time.   Letting your group know, you will need to check in for news from home for just a few minutes.  This approach is a good way to let people know you do value them and the conversation, but are on the lookout for important information from home (kid pickup or other important news).


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