Technology and You
Technology has a way of creeping upon us, and before we know it, our lives are centered around the devices that we use. It is essential to be aware of how technology can help improve your life. Learning how to use various devices and tools to enhance your life and make your life more fulfilling is an essential life skill.
Control access to your time.
Both Android and iOS have new tools to reduce your screen time. iOS calls this ScreenTime, and Android calls this Digital Well-being. Reduce notifications from applications like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and other social media applications. Set daily limits on the time you spend on these applications. If something were significant, you'd hear about it through other channels. Humanity has survived thus far by just getting news once a day. It's not too hard to go back to that.
At the moment, we get all the information at once, all the time. We are not built to absorb and process at the same time. The human brain needs time to reflect.
Technology can be a tool.
We have outsourced the remembering and reminding to our mobile devices. It does allow our brain to focus on higher critical social functions of understanding and practicing empathy. Utilize technology as an extension to your thinking, not as a tool to tell you what to think. This is why controlling notifications is the most important of the things you should do on your phones. The mind tends to wander, and it's important to let it roam on its own and not wander in reaction to external stimulus, particularly something mundane as a Facebook update. Kids last year were forced to learn only with the assistance of iPads/Laptops. The students that did not know how to use them were at a disadvantage. Instead of cutting access to any such technology, teaching kids how to use the technology the right way is an essential life skill.
Some simple settings to try on your devices:
- Delete Facebook.
- For Twitter and other social media, follow the right set of creators.
- Turn on the "Do Not Disturb" function when you want to focus, and on a daily schedule from one hour before bedtime to one hour after your morning alarm.
- Set time limits for social media and other apps
- Double-check if you need all notifications
- Sign up for a meditation app or spend some time daily without podcasts, music, or external stimuli.
- Make sure not to be distracted by phone when working, driving, or in class, or doing something creative.
These may or may not work for you. Try it for a week, and let me know what you think on @kunjanshah. One of the best things I have done to my phone is permanently on vibrate mode. I turned off most notifications on my laptop. Only notifications on my work laptop are for the calendar—nothing else. On my phone, zero notifications for any social media, except for a few work-related Twitter accounts. On my watch, only Fitness and health and iMessage/WhatsApp notifications make it through. I will engage on my terms for the rest of the things when I want to, not when a notification pops up.
Technology is a tool that can be used to improve your life, but it is not the solution to every problem. Technology has its risks and drawbacks that you need to consider before using it to work as a tool rather than an extension of yourself. The most important thing you should do when thinking about how technology impacts your brain or behavior is controlling notifications on social media to distract from what matters in life: human interaction with others and our mental well-being.