It’s Time to Fix Our Broken Relationship with Digital DevicesBy Jose Ramos
Digital devices created a tectonic shift in society in the blink of an eye.
From 1984 to 2015, the percentage of households with computers rose from 8 percent to 79 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The first iPhone arrived in 2007. The iPad came into our lives in 2010. Today, digital devices are an intimate part of our lives.
It’s easy to see why. They add value and convenience to our lives. They entertain and educate us.
It’s not all benefits though. The ease of use, portability, and addictive features of digital devices have led to unhealthy habits that are taking a toll on our mental health.
This is a steep price to pay for the benefits these devices bring us. Our digital habits and the mental health repercussions point to a broken relationship with digital devices. It’s time to reconsider and reshape this relationship.
Unhealthy Habit #1: Constantly Staying Connected
We’re always connected to our digital devices. The only time we unplug is when we’re sleeping. Even then, our phones are often right next to us.
We pick up our phones a hundred times a day to respond to messages and see what’s going on in the digital world. When we’re not on our phones, we keep them within arm’s reach.
We don’t sit with our thoughts or let ourselves get bored. When we’re waiting at a traffic light or in line at a store, we automatically pull out our phones.
Why are we addicted to our digital devices? Because they provide a constant stream of rewards, and they’re packed with addictive features such as infinite scrolling, “like” buttons, and notifications. We can easily get our fix by unlocking our phones and checking for the latest updates on social media or news sites. We get a dopamine hit when a new podcast, email, or text message is delivered to our phones.
These rewards don’t arrive on a fixed schedule. We know they’re coming but we don’t know when the next stimuli will arrive.
The variable reward schedule multiplies the addictive power of digital devices. It keeps us hooked, repeatedly checking for the next dopamine hit.
Unhealthy Habit #2: Compulsively Consuming Digital Information
We’re spending a massive amount of time consuming content, processing incoming information, and sifting through and responding to requests from others.