Unplug Yourself From The Internet… Now
April 3, 2013
Adults spend about 8½ hours a day on the Internet (more if you’re into Crysis 3), watching videos or using mobile gadgets, according to estimates from digital marketing research firm EMarketer. “The problem is that we get glued to our devices and forget we have a life offline,” says Dr Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioural sciences at UCLA in the US. Don’t let your mind and body be imprisoned by the artificial reality of Facebook, Youtube or Candy Crush. Here’s how to identify – and hack through – the technological chokehold.
Problem: Chronic Multitasking
You multitask to accomplish more in less time, right? Yet an experiment at Stanford University revealed that heavy media multitaskers were less efficient than people who multitasked less often. They also had difficulty ignoring irrelevant information. “We become faster – but also sloppier,” Dr Small says. Research also suggests that chronic stress from multitasking can make your brain’s memory centre vulnerable to damage.
Solution: Focus on a specific task
To overcome sloppiness, don’t try to do everything at once. Dr Small suggests breaking up your day into parts, and using each to focus on a specific task at hand. For example, spend an hour in the morning clearing your e-mails, then an hour or two on priority tasks, then another hour on a long-term project, and so on.
Problem: Diminished Social Skills
The tech-addled brain “drifts away” from fundamental social skills, such as reading facial expressions during conversation or grasping the emotional context of a subtle gesture, Dr Small writes in his book, iBrain.
Solution: Enjoy the moment
When you’re out with friends and family, devote your attention to them and the experience you’re sharing with them – not on your mobile phone, says Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet. “Put your devices away for a while, and enjoy the moment while it’s happening,” says Sieberg. “Enjoy a seminal experience first, then post about it later.”
Problem: “Techno-brain Burnout”
People who work online for several hours non-stop report feeling spaced out, fatigued, irritable and distracted. Dr Small calls this digital fog “techno-brain burnout”. It causes your brain to alert your adrenal glands to secrete the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. Over time, this process can impair cognition, and alter the circuitry in brain regions that controls thought and mood.
Solution: No-phone zone
Dr Small advises creating a quiet environment, even if it’s only temporary, to ease the “burnout”. That may mean silencing gadgets, disabling alerts and alarms, or instituting a no-phone zone. “No charging the smartphone in the bedroom,” Sieberg says. “Keep the room a sanctuary and you might even aid intimacy.”
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