Before you read this, put your phone on silent. Actually, flip it over too, so that the backside is facing you. Drop down all the tabs you have open besides this one. Take the earbuds out your orifices. Attempt to devote your attention to one thing. Just the thought of ceasing all of those activities seems strange, right? I understand. It’s what we’ve grown accustomed to these days. Technology has integrated itself into our lives so tremendously that we sometimes struggle peeling ourselves away from it. But this article explains why you should take at least a few minutes of your day and devote it to not doing anything device-related.
Though technology allows us to go through life with less physical strain to accomplish tasks, we still strain ourselves in ways we may not notice. Does your neck ever hurt from looking down at your phone too long? That habit slowly shapes your posture. Are earbuds always in your ears? Make sure you listen at a safe volume for the sake of your eardrums. Look down at your hands as you type today. Are you typing in a manner that will not harm your wrists? Have you ever known you were tired, but stayed up because the T.V.? Sleep deprivation will only add to the stress you may already be experiencing. These are the types of habits that develop with technology’s help. Take proper measures to reduce chances of harming your wellness.
Ting! Ting! Ting! Yup, that’s your phone’s notifications, reminding you that you have a billion things to do and no time to do it in. Your alarm is about to go off for you to hop on the next task. GroupMe is popping this time of day, but you’re busy so you’ll have to struggle to catch up on conversations. And don’t forget to check your email! That inbox is overflowing with messages from work! See how this list quickly compiles into a mountain of stress? That’s what technology can do for you, keep you so well connected that you can barely take time for yourself. Also, have you considered that the reason why you have so much still left to do is because you keep getting distracted by your devices and getting behind?
“It’s a distraction,” is the most common reasoning people give for not allowing use of technology, especially in a classroom or workplace. You never know if a student is on Facebook instead of doing their assignment. There’s no way someone can hear what you’re saying if they have headphones on. Even if they can, someone may feel disrespected by it. In addition, constantly checking messages and notifications slows down productivity, especially if a ringtone grabs the attention of a room full of people. On one hand, we all can have a social life through technology, but on the other hand, does your social life really exist if we’re constantly using technology?
On a larger scale, technology’s ability to distract can actually cause more serious issues concerning brain functionality. Some people find it is more difficult to concentrate since incorporating technology into their daily lives. This lack of concentration also affects decision-making and other abilities the brain is meant to be able to do like innovate, plan ahead, and take in different perspectives.
According to a study approved in 2009 that compared information processing between heavy and light media multitaskers, “heavy media multitaskers are more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli and from irrelevant representations in memory.” This submission to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), proves that multitasking can hinder more than just our productivity as we carry out immediate tasks, but our productivity as we carry out tasks further in time as well. Now you know why that specific meme pops into your head throughout the day. You’ve taken in so much that your brain does not know what to filter out. Yes, the things we do on our devices may encourage us to think deeply, but a bombardment of information does not allow us to actually take time to reflect on one particular thing. The brain jumps from one task to the next, but it can actually only do one thing at a time well.
The brain is meant to do way more than scroll a news feed. Put your device down for a while. Have a face-to-face conversation or two. Admire your surroundings. Consider how to make those surroundings better than what they currently are. Being plugged in makes you vulnerable to being connected to EVERYTHING and sometimes everything is just a few things too many. HOWEVER, if you do stay connected to any one thing, make sure it’s to STEMedia.org so you can get the scoop on a plethora of topics creative and technical!
Written by: Cynthia M. Sharpe, a May 2015 graduate of NC State University. Cynthia graduated with a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and currently aspires to pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. “As I let my own light shine, I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” -Cynthia M. Sharpe, inspired by Marianne Williamson