If you’re reading this article right now, you may be suffering from minor tech addiction. Although it may seem like a comical label to use when describing an excessive use of technology, tech addiction is a serious condition in which a person feels that he or she cannot live without access to technology.
Since the turn of the 21st century, technology has become an essential element in many of our daily lives, especially at a high school like M-A, where we use tech to broadcast news, communicate with teachers, and complete assignments. In fact, about 50% of the U.S. population says they can’t live without their smartphones. Chances are that if you’re reading this article, you’re viewing it on a mobile device.
Despite the lightheartedness with which some people approach the topic of technology overuse, tech addiction can cause our brains to require constant stimulation, a dangerous change that can lead to shortened attention spans and hypervigilance. These effects are especially detrimental in a high school environment as students need focus in order to retain new information which they learn every day.
The use of smartphones on campus at M-A can cause a distraction from work. However, certain applications of media and technology can be helpful to students. Sophomore Jean Claverie stated, “Technology has helped me spread the idea of my club, and has given me a platform on which I can reach out and communicate with others.” When used in moderation, technology is a helpful resource to spread information and increase awareness. However, students often lose track of the amount of time they are actually spending on their devices.
Sophomore Chris Iyer said, “I am on my devices around an hour per day and I’m definitely on the low end.” One can see the prevalence of technology at M-A in class, during brunch and lunch, and even as students walk to their next classes.
Technology, in the form of social media, instant messaging, and grade updates, adds unnecessary stress to student life. Thus, removing oneself from the world of constant information (without running the risk of becoming ignorant) can improve focus and relaxation.
While tech devices such as computers and phones are great tools for occupying idle time, some M-A students could benefit from an occasional ‘digital detox.’ This term refers to a period of time in which a person refrains from using electronic devices. Digital detoxing is a growing phenomenon that attempts to counter the information overload from new media and devices. Tech addiction has become such a problem that people are now devoting entire companies to this hiatus from technology.
Digital Detox, a business operating throughout the United States, asserts that “by disconnecting from our devices we reconnect with: ourselves, each other, our communities, and the world around us… becoming more present, authentic, compassionate, and understanding.” Though this motto may seem sappy, the benefits of taking a digital detox are very real.
Although Digital Detox operates largely in the southern United States, and there are no retreat centers in California, students can use other methods to relieve themselves of tech stress. While taking a digital detox may feel like an impossibility with all the demands of high school, one can begin to lessen your electronic time by setting aside a short period of the day (maybe an hour or two) for technology-free time. For example, one can turn his or her phone off and keeping it on the charger in the later hours of night and earlier morning hours. Through minor changes in everyday life, one can become less tech-dependent and more conscious and self-aware, without the travel costs of physically visiting a Digital Detox center.
As Spring Break nears, consider turning off devices and spending time with family, outside, or with a book! Good luck with your digital detox!