Story contributed by Meghaan Evans
I am not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last to say this, but it is becoming more difficult to escape the pull of technology these days. As a society, we are becoming dependent on our devices for nearly everything we do.
In fact, device dependence has become so severe that even leaders in the technology industry have started taking measures to wean themselves from their devices.
Have you ever read a line of a book — or an email or a work document — and a minute later, you can’t remember it? Well, device dependence could be to blame. Your brain is like a muscle; after it is used, it needs time to recover. Without that time, it may not be able to “soak up” and process the information it is receiving. Many of us go from one task to another, only taking a break to respond to a text, check Facebook or send a Tweet. But research has shown that using the time in between tasks to rest your brain can increase your cognitive abilities.
Device dependence isn’t only detrimental to our cognitive development; it can also strain our relationships.
Here are a few tips you and your family can use to keep device dependence at bay:
- The next time you finish a task, instead of getting online or checking your phone, take a walk in a quiet place, or simply sit back and let your mind wander. (Some call this day dreaming, and it is actually a great way to rest your brain throughout the day.)
- Set up gadget-free zones throughout your home. It goes without saying that the dinner table should be one, but try creating a gadget-free zone in the bedroom or living room as well.
- Many of us use our devices to listen to music, read books or even take notes during meetings. Try turning your device on airplane mode when using it for those purposes. If you need Wi-Fi or a mobile connection to perform these tasks, disable all of your push notifications so that they don’t distract you from the task at hand.
- You might be thinking there is no way you will be able to coax your kids to put down their devices. Here is a solution: Start a contest in your family to see who can go the longest without checking their phone or playing a video game. Make the prize a fun treat to incentivize them to win!
- When you are spending time with friends and family, put your device in another room so you are not tempted to check it if there is a lull in conversation.
- On family vacations, make it a rule that devices can only be used to check in with those who need to know how things are going. Stare up at the stars, not at your screens.
We all need time to unplug and give our brains a break. By unplugging, you may even save on your electric bill. And don’t worry; Facebook will still be there when you return.
MEGHAAN EVANS writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.