by D. Love

What technology are you reading this on? How are you sitting? Lift your head and look around, are there people nearby? How many are staring at screens?

Technology has brought many advantages to health, education and fitness, it has also helped us connect with people we may not have seen in a long time, lost contact with or live overseas. The negatives however have caused us to disconnect with our nearest and dearest and are having serious effects on our mind and bodies.

This post today isn't to nag or berate you, but to create more awareness to a huge problem in society that will only get worse if we don't act now and help ourselves and those around us.

How much of a struggle is it to get the kids off the iPad? Are your partner’s eyes glued to their phone? I have a confession to make, I am addicted to my phone! However, it’s not the mobile device I have an addiction with, it’s the social media on it; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat “apps” that I constantly look through, even when my brain is saturated with them.  Is it because I am looking for some instant gratification!? How many people have liked my Instagram posts? Has anyone liked my Facebook status? But really, who cares?

In the grand scheme of things, we all know this stuff isn't important. When an individual likes your photo, an area in our brain called the Nucleus Accumbens lights up like the 4th of July! This part of the brain processes rewarding feelings about food, sex, money and social acceptance, every “like” encourages and condones this behaviour.

Some of you must be thinking, “so what if I spend time looking at my phone, people read books and watch television whilst sitting together.” Correct, they do, but a book can educate, television can create discussion because you can be all involved with a group viewing the same program, tiny screens, however, seclude us and can lead to some serious social difficulties. Think about when you go out to dinner with your friends, how many people have their phone out, and when one has theirs out it seems to have a ripple effect and the next thing you know we are all on our phones! No wonder there are social difficulties, people don't talk to one another anymore. A 2010 study by Stanford researchers Pea and Nass found girls ages 8 to 12 who spend a lot of time using media and attempting to multitask report lower self-esteem and more difficulty socialising compared to their less media-driven peers.

Right, enough of the negative stuff, we can all see what’s happening, how do we prevent the downfall of human interaction?

Become more aware. Start noticing your behaviour, why are you opening your phone? Is it to send a message, email or make a phone call?  

Move your social media. Make it harder to access these addictive apps by putting them in a folder on the furthest page or even delete them! There is even an app that limits how much social media you can use on your phone. I would suggest if you struggle that much that you could do to delete the apps and take some time off social media!

An hour a day. Limit your social media usage to make your time on and off it more productive. I promise you will have so much more time to do things you want to do! If you want to spend some time on Pinterest or Instagram looking for ideas, decide what you are looking for and set a timer and stick to it.

Be there in body and mind. When you are out with friends or family ask phones stay in bags and pockets (on silent if possible) to avoid distraction so the time spent with those people is quality. If someone really needs to use their phone they should move away, this will help you question how necessary it is to use your phone in that moment in time. This will improve your relationships because you will both feel heard and valued.

We can’t escape technology forever but we can embrace it and learn how to use it in a productive manner.  Being mindful of why, where and when you are using technology will allow you to remain in the present, bring you closer to the people you love and ensure you don't become another social media zombie!

Now back to Facebook….