"And the beat goes on......................"
We are all guilty, to some extent, in overuse of our smart phones, tablets, and computers in our over reliance on social media, emails, web surfing and the like. But to what degree, and wherein lies the harm?
In an article in Business Insider, the author previews "a new feature in the iPhone operating system which shows how much time you spend on your phone". The feature is coming to your phone as part of the IOS 12 update this fall.
"It collects data on how many times you use your phone and how many times you pick it up. It also includes statistics on which apps you use most, and how many notifications you receive."
After using the feature, he was shocked at how many hours a day he is on his phone"
"Before I looked at these stats, I didn't think I had a phone problem. I've actively tried to limit notifications, and I try really hard not to check my phone during meetings or conversations, so I'm not being rude to people around me.
I'm still not sure if I have a phone problem, but I may simply be in denial. The fact is that I'm using my phone for a huge number of my waking hours — a way higher percentage than I would have guessed without these stats."
And he adds that even Apple CEO Tim Cook was surprised by his personal usage:
"I've been using it and I have to tell you: I thought I was fairly disciplined about this. And I was wrong," Cook said in an interview with CNN. "When I began to get the data, I found I was spending a lot more time than I should."
Being tethered to our devices, constantly checking email and feeling we have to respond immediately to everything sent us, unreasonable and perhaps even irrational addiction to the whole array of social media sites, compulsive web searching even when it's clear that the information and data we are unearthing probably has little or nothing to do with what motivated us to look for it in the first place, the distraction of wild goose chases we go on as a result of our undisciplined curiosity -- has caused us lots of lost and wasted time, stress, anxiety, and other problems.
And that time squandered has serious impact on our work, our private lives and our organizations. It can, and does, result in:
1. Interference with our ability to focus and concentrate on work at hand, impacting our finished product.
2. A negative impact on our personal lives, free time and family mental health.
3. A negative cost in terms of interpersonal relationships and the creative and positive other benefits of those relationships.
4. Misuse of limited available time in addressing the challenges facing an organization.
Doubtless, there are many more reasons why we have been long counseled to rein in our addiction to our phones and other devices, and to install some self-discipline in the usage. And this is seen as important for not only us, but for our friends, everybody in our families, and our work colleagues too. For too many people, the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do at night is to check their phones or tablets. When the internet connection is lost, we panic. And all of this is new in just the past decade. Clearly, some of us are in denial about having a problem. And probably most of us have an erroneous idea of how much we use our phones and tablets. Think about it.
So this fall, if you install the IOS 12 update, you will be able to shock yourself by knowing exactly how many hours you are using the device, how many times you pick up your phone or tablet each day, which apps dominate your usage and more. And then, maybe, that information and the conclusions you can draw, will motivate you to do something to alter your behavior.
What can you do? As the article indicted, there are already some apps that will allow you to discipline your usage, though virtually all of them will allow for manual overrides. Still, it will be instructive if you end up using those overrides on a frequent basis. Even without those apps you can resolve to limit your usage to certain hours, a certain number of times, or even to forego some of the social media you use, but might be better of without. Failure to stick to your resolutions will tell you something about your usage.
The thing is, almost everybody is likely guilty of overuse and over dependence on our devices and being tethered to the internet. We have become the prisoners of the technology that was suppose to free us. It is affecting our independence, our ability to relate on human terms to other people, our sleep, our work and productivity, and there are very likely small and large health impacts - from headaches to eye strain to who knows what - all to degrees we aren't even fully aware or appreciative of. Few of us think about our surrender of control at all. And, of course, there is the stress that the control by our devices causes us.
I wonder what would happen to the world, or just America, if there was a national Off the Grid Day when all of us turned the devices off and didn't use them for 24 hours? Would the world end? Probably, the only impact would be that the demand to get back on in the first two minutes after the 24 hours ban was over, would crash the grid everywhere.
Good luck in finding ways to temper your own use that will improve your life, your relationships and your work. I'm sure you can do it. You'll excuse me, I've got to go check my emails.
Have a good week.