Are You Overly Reliant on Technology?

Would you find it difficult to manage without your smartphone, tablet, notebook or desktop PC? If so, you are certainly not alone.

Photo: Nina Helmer/Flickr

Photo: Nina Helmer/Flickr

Are you overly reliant on technology? Would you find it difficult to manage without your range of electronic devices and gadgets – such as computers, tablets, and smartphones? If so, you are certainly not alone.

Stories abound of the digital addict – a person whose reliance on technology absorbs almost every waking moment, to the point of it becoming an obsession and threatening their very health and well-being. Sadly, there are a number of studies to suggest that such addictions may be more widespread than we are prepared to admit.

Arts of conversation

Video killed the radio star – as the title of a pop song goes. But along with videos, radios and all the other electronic devices and gadgets in today’s world there is an even more worrying risk that the art of conversation is dying.

Conversation is an inherently human activity. In order to enjoy, enhance and develop our humanity it is important to communicate with other individuals on a face to face basis in the real world – not just device to device

More worrying is the apparently growing difficulty faced by children in communicating with others or of enjoying the mind-expanding pleasures of reading. Research by the National Literacy Trust, for example, suggests that barely a quarter of school children do any reading outside of the classroom and that a fifth of them might actually be embarrassed by carrying – still less, reading – a book.

Testing whether you and your family are overly reliant on technology

Here then may be a few rules of thumb to test your reliance on electronic gadgetry:

  • are you checking your mobile phone up to 200 times a day (it seems that the average person in the UK will do so)? 
  • do you take your mobile phone to bed with you each night? 
  • which lasts longer, your sleeping time or your time online (for about a quarter of the population the latter wins out)? 
  • do you spend any time reading? 
  • more importantly, perhaps, do your children spend any time out of school reading? 
  • do you read to your children? 
  • do you have a sense of any family time together?

An initiative called Tech Timeout aims not only to put these kinds of questions under the microscope but is also striving to turn the tide of the flood of digital material washing into so many people’s lives.

Steve Dilworth from Foresters, the international financial services and membership organisation fronting the campaign, comments:

“Technology is continually being developed to make our lives just that little bit easier, but in placing everything in the digital realm we could be inadvertently creating a nation of ‘digital addicts’.

“With an abundance of digital devices at our disposal it can be difficult to maintain a healthy balance between interacting with technology and socialising outside of it.  The Tech Timeout challenge is designed to aid families in finding more time to spend together and help to make sure that technology, although an important part of modern life, is enjoyed in moderation.”

How?

Tech Timeout is throwing down a simple challenge – are you able to turn off all your digital devices and gadgets for just the evening, or even an hour, every day for just a week and use the time to strengthen the bonds that make up your family relationships?

If you think you can, you and your family are invited to make a joint pledge to agree to a scheduled time when all electronic devices in the home will be turned off in order for the family to come together, do things together and spend quality time together.

The pledge is not unreasonable. It allows for the fact that there is a time and a place for all the technology we probably use on a daily basis. It is, rather, a question of acknowledging that our reliance on technology should not be all of the time and in every place.

About the author

Steve Dilworth is MD of the Member Network UK at Foresters, the international financial services (FS) and membership organisation. He has extensive experience within the charity and FS sector, with a First Class Honours Degree in Economics and a Degree in FS. He is Chair of Soho Ltd, a subsidiary of Soho Housing Association, and Chairs Bromley Neighbourhood Police Panel. In 2012 he was elected as a Community Champion for the London Borough of Bromley.

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