We currently live in a highly digitized world. There was a time when having a mobile phone was a luxury; now it is the norm. Everyone has a cell phone these days and with the advanced technology, we are finding that we are spending more time on our phones. With the invention of platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media programs, people have a greater reason to use their phones for more than just making a phone call.
The aforementioned social media platforms are constantly evolving. And due to that growth in technology, time spent on social media is increasing. A teenager can spend up to nine hours a day on their mobile device with at least 30% of that time focused entirely on social media.
These platforms give the impression that communication and interaction with others is higher. Yes, that might be the case when it comes to the technological arena. The problem, though, is that these are artificial interactions; kids and adults alike may be communicating more through their phones, but direct physical contact and interaction is declining.
With the illusion that we are more connected than ever, how is this affecting our livelihoods, relationships, and real social connections? If we are spending too much time on these devices, we may be steering ourselves toward an unbalanced and unhealthy lifestyle.
Yes, our mobile phones are a wonderful convenience. Having a phone on hand can be helpful when there is an emergency and you need to contact someone in a hurry. We can manage our busy schedules at the touch of a button. And we can occupy our time reading an e-book or playing a video game anytime, anyplace. But if we are spending a high percentage of time with these mobile applications, we may start to lose touch with human connection.
As humans, we NEED social interaction. That is our nature. We thrive as communities and we develop greater self-esteem. Without a healthy social outlet, it can lead to isolation, depression, low self-worth, and other emotional and psychological downfalls. We are also seeing social divides and a focus on differences as a result of our social media indulgence. What we need is a balance in our lives. We need to be able to continue making our technological advances, but not be consumed by them. We need to enhance, honor, and appreciate the gift of human connection. It brings us closer as a human race.
Here are a few tips to consider and practice to help minimize the use of technology and social media to create a healthier and more balanced self.
It's very easy to get swept away by swiping through the myriad of pictures and stories that create the landscape of most social media apps. You open your device and before you know it, time has slipped through your fingers. If you have the awareness that perusing the online pictures sucks away your time, then try setting a timer to alert you that it's time to divert your attention to something else.
Some devices now have methods to set time limits on particular apps. When that time is up, it shuts off. Then you're restricted from using the application for a certain period of time.
Some folks can get addicted to their phones and the various social apps. Are you swaying that direction? Maybe you can avoid that situation; nip it in the bud! Take inventory and decide what is more important to you: electronic friends or really connections with real people. If it's the latter, consider deleting the applications on your phone that have been the most distracting. Relieving yourself of those burdens will leave room to develop and enhance relationships with your friends and family.
Creating some structure in the household, especially around mealtime, can be quite effective when establishing balance within yourself and your home community. Make a rule to put phones and other electronic devices away when seated at the table. That goes for turning off the television, too.
Use the opportunity to socialize with one another. Ask about each others' day. Check in with one another. This can enhance your relationships with your close family members and friends.
Technology can also take us away from what is natural and beautiful. Take a break from your electronic devices by spending time outdoors. It can be as simple as taking a walk in your neighborhood. Or take the time to stroll through your nearby park, take a hike, go bike riding, roller skating. Do anything that will take you outside. Even better, try going off the grid. You may have your phone with you when you're out enjoying your natural surroundings. But consider this; find places where you don't have internet access. You'll be less likely to indulge in the sometimes inescapable grip of social media. Take advantage of the time to reconnect with nature.
These are just some ideas on how you can find a little bit more balance in your life and maximize a healthy way of being. Yes, we rely on our phones for many things, but they don't have to take over our lives. Instead, enhance your life with true connections with friends, family, and nature.
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