Your Digital Well-being or Who is the Boss?
Updated: May 10
Digital devices changed our lives forever. They inform us about what is going on around the world. They connect us with people and cultures. They support us in our everyday lives, they entertain us and not to mention that so many of our professions need access to a digital device. The pandemic hasn't helped. Instead we have been accelerated into digital life. If you track your time spent online I assume you are sometimes shocked by the hours at the end of a week.
So here is my question for you: Are you in control of your digital devices or are you addicted to them?
According to a research by GWI, we spend about 6hours and 58 minutes online every single day. This comes with a price tag. We see social, physical and mental consequences. Among them are:
Social Isolation, Loneliness
Back Pain, Headaches
Issues of Focus
No Work-life Balance
The paradox is: We all know this. We are very much aware that we spend too much time online. We know that our digital devices can make us sick. We even scold our children when they spend too much time on their digital devices, because we want to protect them from all of the negatives, yet what kind of role model are we? Why can't we put our phones away?
We have to understand the role of our hormones if we want to get to the root of this issue. Let me introduce you to three hormones: dopamine, cortisol and melatonin.
Dopamine is associated with pleasurable reward and motivation. The anticipation of a reward alone is enough to release dopamine. If you enjoy cookies, the mere smell will raise your dopamine level in your body. You are excited. We may not all enjoy cookies, but we all enjoy validation from our friends, families and even complete strangers and when they write us, we get excited. So any text message, a comment or like on our post, a notification gets us thrilled and we keep coming back to check upon them. Since the impact of the dopamine is only short lived, most apps are build with a trigger, that leads you to an action, that will then lead to a reward and you just can't get enough.
Melatonin plays a role in your circadian rhythm. It helps you fall asleep. Many devices emit a blue light which suppresses the release of melatonin if you use your device right before bedtime and you can't fall asleep.
Also known as our fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol is responsible to make sure we are safe. Therefore, we have a need to know if something new is going on and if it has the potential to threaten us. There is so much going on in the world and we have access to it 24-7. We feel we may miss something, so we come back and check our phones again and again.
Our fear to miss out on something, our craving to be recognized and appreciated by other people and our compulsion to be available to others all the time, leads us to multi-tasking. How often are you interrupted at work or when you are with your family? How often do you multi-task on your digital devices?
I invite you to participate in a little experiment.
Count out loud from 1-10 as fast as you can and stop your time.
It probably took you 1-2 seconds.
Now, say out loud the first 10 letters of your alphabet.
This probably took you 2 seconds.
Now multi-task and mix these two tasks and count 1A, 2B, 3C, ... 10J.
I know some of you really struggled to get to the end and even those who could finish needed more than four seconds which would have been the time if you first would have counted from 1-10 and then from A-J.
Multitasking makes us loose time. We loose our strain of thought when we get interrupted from our digital devices and it takes us so much more time and energy to complete the task we were meant to finish.
Where do we go from here? What can we do to improve the status quo?
Something tells me you already know the answer to that question.
switch off notifications on our phones
delete apps that we no longer need
close all our digital devices one hour before we go to bed
have uninterrupted meal time with our friends and family
block one hour a day for our most important task and do nothing else during that time
do a social media detox
However, when it comes to our addiction to our digital devices we are like children in a candy store who just can't say no. It is too hard. It is what it is. It is our life.
The only thing that has the potential to change this situation is your answer to the question: Do you want to spend your life like this?
Maybe you are already the boss of your digital devices and not vice versa. Congratulations! And if not you have to decide how much time you would like to spend online and when it might be better to switch your devices off. What might be more important that makes you forget to check your phone?
COACHING because your digital well-being is important.
MANY PEOPLE ARE PRISONERS OF THEIR PHONES; THAT´S WHY THEY´RE CALLED CELL PHONES.
- Hoda Kobb -