Digital Detox: Bringing Awareness to Screen Time

By February 18, 2019October 17th, 2019No Comments

In 2010, Steve Jobs announced the iPad at Apple’s Special Event. Jobs presented the iPad as a miraculous piece of technology that would transform how we consume media. He said that there would be at least one iPad in every home.

Months later during a casual conversation with Jobs, New York Times reporter Nick Bilton asked, “So, your kids must love the iPad?”

“They haven’t used it,” Jobs replied. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Other tech titans feel the same way. Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired magazine, famously shares how all of his kids’ devices have parental controls and time limits. Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, has two young boys who own hundreds of physical books rather than screens.

Why do these tech titans limit their kids’ tech time? Most of the them say some variant of, “I see the effect of technology on me, and I don’t want that to happen to my kids.” 

Most of these tech execs also know that technology is designed to be addictive. Netflix and Hulu automatically start the next episode; Facebook sends us exciting notifications throughout the day; and sites like Pinterest and Instagram let us scroll to eternity. 

The more addictive the technology, the more profitable it is…and the more easily we get hooked. (For more on habit-forming digital products, read Hooked by Nir Eyal.)

Digital engagement can be defined as time spent in front of a screen or interacting with a screen. Examples include scrolling on Facebook, FaceTiming with a loved one, watching your favorite TV show, replying to an email in line at the grocery store, preparing a presentation, and reading this article. 

Digital engagement is not “good” or “bad,” but the way we use digital time can enhance or detract from our levels of effectiveness and enjoyment. 

Here are some simple recommendations for bringing more awareness to your engagement with technology:

  • Reflect On Your Technology Use: Spend a few minutes brainstorming the different ways you use technology, from email to entertainment. Explore how each use of technology makes you feel before, during, and afterwards.
  • Practice Non-judgment: Technology is designed to ensnare us, and no one is immune – not even the people who invented it! Practice curiosity rather than judgment in your investigation of digital engagement.
  • Check In Rather Than Check Out: The next time you pick up your phone or open your laptop, pause to notice how the experience of digital engagement feels in your body. Are there strong bodily sensations? How’s your breath? Are you impatient to check notifications or take another action with your tech device?
  • Cultivate Awareness: Another great way to support your journey to healthy digital engagement is by joining me at Mastermind’s next Mindfulness for Beginners workshop! Learn research-backed ways to reduce stress and improve focus for a calmer, more productive life. 

Next week we’ll discuss more practical tips for integrating mindfulness into our digital lives. 

As Chief Mindfulness Officer of Mastermind Meditation, Dorsey Standish brings research-backed mindfulness and mindful movement to clients throughout the state of Texas. A lifelong learner and scientist, Dorsey has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and is enrolled in the UT Dallas Applied Cognition and Neuroscience Master’s Program. After mindfulness transformed her own work, health and relationships, Dorsey left her corporate role at Texas Instruments to share the power of mindfulness with others full-time. Dorsey’s teachings combine neuroscience research with her experiences in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program and multiple weekend and 10-day silent meditation retreats. Join Dorsey for one of Mastermind’s upcoming applied mindfulness programs at mastermindmeditate.com/programs