Finding Balance in a Digital World

As the world continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, the past year and a half has pushed most of us into a more virtual existence. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some insights on the impact of technology on mental health using insights gained from the audiobook, Finding Balance in a Digital World, by Doreen Dodgen-Magee**.

Research has found that…

  • On average, people are spending about 10 hours a day on devices.
    • It is estimated that 4 of those hours are spent on smartphones.
  • Multi-tasking is a myth; in fact, doing multiple things simultaneously tends to reduce efficiency, performing multiple tasks in a subpar way.
    • Example: I’m typing this blog post, responding to work emails and texts from friends, while watching my toddler, who is watching Peppa Pig on the TV. Though I have my noise-canceling headphones on, this multi-tasking is no-doubt reducing the efficiency of typing this blog.

Impact on Mental Health

The DSM 5 is the book that outlines the various mental health conditions that can impact a person. Though technology addiction is not listed in the DSM, the American Psychological Association (the folx who write the DSM) and the World Health Organization have asserted that technology is a diagnosable problem on the rise; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if technology addiction is added in the next edition of the DSM.

According to the audiobook, repeated behaviors can rewire our brains physiologically (chemically and physically). Because of this, our behaviors and habits become ingrained, which is why reaching for our device(s) will sometimes feel like we’re on autopilot.

The author doesn’t write off technology as inherently bad; to the contrary, she acknowledges how integral these tools can be to our work, school, and social lives. With that in mind, we must be mindful of the emotional imacts of unregulated technology use, such as:

  • Reduced ability to focus
  • Reduced need for critical thought
    • “Just Google it.”
  • Impaired communication skills, patience, and self-regulation skills.
  • Technology activates our brain’s dopamine (AKA, the “feel good” hormone/neurotransmitter) receptors, so tech works on the same feedback loop that drug addiction does.
    • Examples- Searching for those red notification dots, dropping everything when your phone dings, desktop alerts, etc. More on that here.

Techniques for Digital Wellness

The author, a psychologist and researcher, explains that achieving digital wellness is not as simple as eliminating tech from our lives; in fact, she talks about how digital detoxes can feel daunting for most people. Instead, she offers the following insights:

  • Changes in habits are less about what not to do and more about what to do.
    • “It’s easier to establish healthy norms than it is to break bad habits.”
  • Unplug a few times a day:
    • Meditation
    • Yoga
    • 10-minute boredom party- people are often afraid to be alone with their thoughts but this time is necessary to provide balance, calm, and to boost creativity.

Conclusion

You can check out Finding Balance in a Digital World by Doreen Dodgen-Magee for free on Audible. I’m currently reading her other book, Deviced! Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World, and I also plan to read her book, Restart: Designing a Healthy Post-Pandemic Life, when it comes out later this month. Stay tuned, as I may do reviews of these books in a future post.

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*This post includes affiliate links. Using them is of no additional charge to you and helps to support my podcast.

**Source used: https://www.audible.com/pd/Finding-Balance-in-a-Digital-World-Audiobook/B09FQF1ZT4

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5 thoughts on “Finding Balance in a Digital World”

  1. I like that idea of focusing on balance and healthy things to do rather than what not to do.

    1. Same! Thanks for reading, Ashley 🙂

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