Do you ever feel the need to turn it off? When was the last time you were alone in your head? Sounds funny but think about it. Every day we are connected and turned on. We turn on the radio, television, smartphone, computer, video game and tablets in the morning before we even have time to wake up and say hello to our own body, mind and spirit. We find out what's happening with our friends on Facebook before we even say hello to our own family.
How healthy is this constant connectivity?
According to Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd, the founder and executive director of Liberty University's Center for Digital Wellness in Lynchburg, Va., continual connectivity is not healthy. That's why Liberty University started the nation's first Center for Digital Wellness.
For our family, we really try to limit our screen time and technology time. The more stuff you have, the more it has you (I say to my kids all the time). The same applies to technology. Dr. Frejd says, "Technology has a way of giving us control and taking it away at the same time. I like what technology is doing for us, but I don't like what it is doing to us. Everyone is being impacted, and every person has to decide what their digital boundaries are and how much control they are going to give technology."
Some recent studies show a 30 percent increase in narcissism (excessive interest in oneself or one's physical appearance) and a 40 percent decrease in empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another) among college students. We're losing our ability to relate to others in person. The average person now checks their smartphone 150 times per day. Smartphone overuse can lead to higher risk for depression, anxiety and stress.
After reading this article, I was on a date with my wife and we were walking around the Christiana mall. I found myself needlessly checking my smartphone for a text or an email (the only social media I choose to have on my phone by the way). Then I scolded myself for it. The reality set in. We all do it.
Here's "Ten Steps to Digital Wellness" that Dr. Frejd promotes:
1. It's not "I tweet, therefore I am." Think twice before you post, tweet or upload it.
2. Watch your digital footprints, because they are permanent.
3. Unplug. Take a digital "fast" once a week or once a month.
4. Invest in relationships. Real people trump virtual ones.
5. Establish digital boundaries. Limit when you use digital devices and how much time you spend on them.
6. Find things you enjoy doing in real life and do them.
7. Get outside. Take walks, feel the sun and breathe fresh air.
8. Power down and get some sleep. Your brain can't thrive without it.
9. Cultivate your "Godspace" daily. Take time to be still and meditate daily.
10. Be a good steward and use technology for God's glory.
Consider your digital health. Enjoy the real world again.