Over the past two decades, technology has become unavoidably interwoven into our lives. For Millennials, it is normal to spend hours of the day staring at a screen while the Baby Boomers have learned to adapt to this way of life. However, increasingly there is an awareness of the negative impact of technology as well as the many benefits these developments have brought.
Google’s Digital Wellbeing
Probably the best known website worldwide, Google processes 40,000 search queries every second. Most of us, every day, find ourselves on Google. Many of us will conduct multiple searches, countless searches, and spend hours online after finding the results we are searching for. Google is also very well known for collecting data on their users. In addition to our shopping habits, location and other personal details, Google also knows how long you spend online. It seems that Google has decided perhaps we all need to be more aware of how much of our lives we spend online or staring at a screen. It’s part of the universal move towards empowering users by keeping them informed.
At Google’s annual developer conference in May 2018, they announced a ‘digital wellbeing’ initiative. Google wants its user to know how long they are spending using technology, beginning with their cell phones. Android P, their new operating system, is designed to minimise the distracting features of your phone. You will be able to reduce notifications, limit visual disturbances and block unnecessary interactions. Google will also empower users by breaking down exactly how much time the phone owner spends on each individual app.While these features are great for Android users, many of these are already included in Apple’s iOS. The breakdown of time spent on apps, for example, has been available for years. However, it’s still an important, if belated, step forward.
There are many other websites and apps which devour our time. Social media platforms are specifically designed to keep you engaged for as long as possible. The way our news feeds are designed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even LinkedIn is in the form of a continuous scroll. We can sit on our phones and thumb through an endless stream of news, videos, statuses and images. YouTube and Netflix also encourage ongoing engagement: after one video or episode ends, the next starts automatically. Technology has made it easier than ever to spend hours doing nothing in particular without any effort.
How Can You Improve Your Wellbeing?
We should all recognise that spending too much time on our cell phones or staring at a computer screen is unhealthy. While we may think we’re being sociable by tweeting two hundred times per day, there is no substitute for engaging with people in real life. Similarly, looking at a lit screen for a long time is a strain on the eyes. Limiting your usage of technology is important for both your mental and physical health. Here’s a simple list of suggestions which will help you reduce the time you spend using technology:
- Set yourself a cut off time for using technology – studies have shown that our sleep is negatively affected when we use our phones late into the night. In addition, when you go to sleep, don’t have you phone right by your head where you’ll be tempted to check it if you wake during the night. Put it to charge on the far side of the room instead.
- Limit how often you check your phone – if you’re one of those people who checks your cell as soon as it lights up or vibrates, consider limiting yourself. Check your phone once an hour, rather than every five minutes, and watch how the device loosens its grip on your life.
- Turn off push notifications – yes, you may want to know when someone likes your Facebook status but do you need to? Turning off notifications to apps which don’t truly matter (work emails may be necessary, for example) reduces the number of times your cell lights up and interrupts your day for a banal reason.
- Remove or hide distracting apps – got a game you can’t stop playing? Or do you automatically click to check your Twitter every time you unlock your phone? Take these apps off your home screen and place them out of sight. This means you have to make a conscious decision to use them in the future.
- Go grey – did you know you can remove all colour from your phone? Turn on the greyscale setting and you’ll be astounded at how much less interesting your phone becomes. Seemingly the lure of bright colours doesn’t end when we become adults.
Why Is A Digital Marketing Blog Encouraging People To Turn Off Their Technology?
Digital Freak believes everyone needs balance in their lives. While our business is based online, we recognise that overuse and over-consumption of technology can have a plethora of negative side effects. Shorter, less frequent engagements with technological platforms are more fulfilling, more enjoyable and more valuable. And that goes for the marketer as well as the user. People who spend hours on Facebook become numb to the ads which appear in their news feed. Those of us who jump onto Google to search for an answer as soon as possible ignore the paid adverts at the top of the results page. By reducing the total amount of time we spend online, we will in turn find ourselves valuing and enjoying the experience more when we do succumb to technology.
Much like Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, Digital Freak believes that technology can be a “positive force”. However, everything in moderation, and too much exposure to technology, whether for work or pleasure, can lead to negative side effects. For those of us in the digital marketing industry, one of those negatives can be a disconnect with marketing materials. In addition to keeping our content fresh and interesting, we find that ‘fresh-faced’ users are more engaged.
So now you’ve finished reading, turn off your phone or shut down your computer and take a break from the world wide web for a while. Instead, take in the wide world around you.