In a world where we are more connected than ever, we are also more disconnected than ever. Look around you; there are people with their faces in devices everywhere you go. People are having romantic candlelit dinners, but their phones burn brighter than the candle. Parents are watching their child’s performance through their video screen trying to capture the moment instead of really watching it. Food is going cold whilst we try to get the perfect shot. We all do or have done it.

The world’s brands and tech creators spend literally billions of dollars trying to get your attention, and we spend countless hours online for the same reason, to get attention. We are the ‘Attention Generation’.

Whether it be positive or negative, we are all fighting for attention; every single one of us, every single day, especially our kids. As parents, we need to be role models on how to get positive attention, and how to give people the attention they deserve when they are
in front of us. It’s not an easy task.

Why do we need to do this?

Two reasons really. As I said above, we need to teach ourselves and our children how to be present with those around us, and secondly, to teach our children to have self-control on what they give attention to because the consequences can be dire. Too many children are becoming depressed, too many children are harming themselves, and too many lives are being lost. We all need to do something.

Studies have shown, that spending too much time on technology is not good for your focus or your mental health. Hundreds of clinical studies show that screens increase depression, anxiety and aggression. On the positive, Ford’s 2014 consumer survey reports that 62 per cent of adults felt better about themselves after getting positive reactions to what they shared on social media. But what about when we post something and get no reaction or negative reactions?

Notifications, responses and rewards are ruling our lives because this attention is addictive. Gaming creators call this the “compulsion loop”.

The science behind it?

Every time someone reacts to something you have done online, or you react positively to something someone else has done online, you get a dopamine hit. Dopamine is an addictive pleasure chemical in our brains that is released from doing things we enjoy; it’s like a hug for the brain. Who doesn’t want more pleasure chemicals and hugs?

The negative though is that the opposite also occurs if we don’t get the attention we desire:
•• Decreased self-esteem, eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
•• Anxiety.
•• Depression and depressive symptoms.
•• Feeling a lack of connection.
•• Feelings of inferiority.
•• Deterioration in concentration and other symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

What can we do?

If you feel any of the above, i.e. have the focus of a hyperactive toddler or a 90-year-old with dementia, or find that you are snapping at people because they are interrupting your device time; it’s probably a pretty good indication that you need to take action.

Here are 12 signs that you have an addiction to your device:

1. It’s the first thing and or last thing you do every day.
2. Your device is never out of reach; you check it for no real reason.
3. You take your phone to the toilet.
4. You use your phone in social settings.
5. If you are bored, you pick up a device.
6. You get fidgety if you don’t have a device.
7. You use your device more or the same amount on holidays.
8. You think you hear your phone even though you haven’t.
9. You look at your phone whilst driving.
10. You look at your device whilst watching a movie.
11. Getting interrupted when using your device causes frustration.
12. You have trouble with empathy after being on technology.

Are you nodding your head and holding your breath thinking, “Oh crap, I do this”? You are not alone, and most of us are unaware that we have a problem.
Do you think you are suffering from Nomophobia, the fear of not being able to use your device, fear of having no internet connection, a flat battery or worse, losing your phone?

Here are some simple habits to try, to lead by example and reconnect with the world around you:

1. Have designated times that you use social media; log out of it to ensure you don’t get hypnotised by notifications.
2. Turn notifications off on your emails and apps.
3. Have times when you turn the mobile data on your phone off; so, it’s just a phone.
4. Have a ‘no screens’ rule at the dinner table, in bedrooms, and whilst doing family activities.
5. Have a rule that when with company, there are no screens.
6. On holidays, detox from tech and get offline; it’s the best time to do so, your brain and your family will thank you for it.
7. Have a screen free day each week.
8. Put your phone away when you get home.
9. Do not use tech until you have exercised in the morning; tech is your reward.
10  Limit your use of screen time when your kids are around. Set a good example.

In the end, only you can decide if your use of technology is impacting you, your family, and your relationships. Sure, there are a lot of great things about technology, but think about it like chocolate, it’s got its place, but we shouldn’t eat it all day long.


Custom Gallery: images not found