Are you addicted to your smart phone? I want you to consider this: the average smartphone user checks his or her device every six and a half minutes. That works out to be around 150 times a day!
Now, perhaps you think that staying connected is a good thing, and I would be the last one to tell you that it isn’t. I enjoy Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and Pinterest just as much as anyone, and I am guilty of checking the status of my “friends” and staying connected with my business colleagues multiple times a day myself. It makes me wonder what in the world we did to stay connected before we had smart devices. Oh wait. I remember. We went to visit people…in person!
If you think that all of this connectedness is benign entertainment, you may want to think again. Growing evidence points to the fact that all of this digital connectivity is beginning to rewire our brains, causing us to be less able to connect on a human face-to-face level. A Pew Internet Research Center study shows that teens will opt for texting their friends in lieu of making phone calls, sending emails or face-to-face conversations. As a result, teens’ ability to read facial expressions and to communicate in person diminishes.
This trend has the potential for reducing our ability to empathize, and I don’t know about you, but that is a troublesome prospect as far as I am concerned. I believe we need to maintain human connection that goes beyond checking email or sending a “like” to a Facebook friend when they have posted something that we, well, something that we like.
I don’t have any major recommendation to make, and as I have already admitted, I am guilty of over using the phone not to mention the hours a day that I spend in front of my computer as part of my business. The trend is setting itself into permanence, and while I don’t know what to do about it, I don’t think it hurts for us to be aware of it. I don’t know about you, but if my brain is rewiring itself, I want to know that, don’t you?
So, I will leave you with this one recommendation. Unplug a few minutes every day. Be deliberate about it. Choose a time of day and the period each day in which you pledge to shut the phone off, back away from the computer, and take a walk. Even if it is to walk around the block, but don’t take the phone with you. Don’t be one of the people who walks like a zombie staring at their phone while they expect YOU to move out of their way when they stop dead in their tracks in front of you, oblivious of their surroundings.
Make time to make a human connection…you know, with real people. Look into their eyes, ask them how they are doing, inquire about their day…and listen intently to their answer. Make a rule about no phones at the dinner table so that you have a chance to have a family dinner AND conversation. Insist on having quality time that isn’t intruded upon by the digital world. You can always plug back in, but plug-in on YOUR terms and not because of your addiction and not because you are unaware that there your brain is being rewired. You now know, and you should behave accordingly.
Now before you decide to turn off your devices and take a break, please like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and find me on LinkedIn.
If you or a friend or family member is looking for a job because they are out of work, between jobs, or underemployed, contact me for information about the “disruptive job search” methodology that is taught at CareerHMO, the “cure for chronic career pain.” I am now working as a career coach with CareerHMO and am looking for people who could benefit from the program and the fantastic resources that are available through CareerHMO and its sister site, Careerealism.