Electronics are wonderful creations. They make the world more efficient and can be extremely entertaining. Electronics are relatively new to the human species and we are still trying to figure out the best ways to employ them. Currently, electronics can be one of three things to each of us.
They can be a servant. Used correctly, they can assist us in being more productive, communicate better, work efficiently, and complete tasks that used to take days or months to complete (e.g., genealogy work, writing publications, obtaining information). When they are our servants they assist us in accomplishing our predetermined goals in life, help us relate to our family, achieve worthwhile pursuits, improve our education, increase our status in the community, and improve our relationships with others outside the family. In addition, they can be a great source of needed entertainment for “down time.”
Electronics with screens can also be a distraction. If we spend too much time on them, they can easily delay our goals or distract us from achieving our dreams. They can distract us from the quality time we could be spending with our significant others. Electronics as a distraction is not too detrimental if we are able to accomplish our goals eventually and prosper in life.
However, they can also be our master. Electronics become our master when they control our moods, keep us from accomplishing our goals, interfere with sleep, interfere with our relationships with others and make our progress in life stagnant. They become our master when we turn to a screen to cope with life. When we are upset -- we find relief in a screen; when we are happy – we turn to a screen to celebrate; and when we are need of succor -- we turn to a screen for support. Eventually we can become addicted to the screens and become subject to their whims. When a notification goes off, there goes our attention: from what we were paying attention to towards... the device. We even become trapped in depression and anxiety as a direct result of our screen time and often are not aware that our depression and anxiety is related to our electronics which is now an addiction to screen time.
Currently, electronics are made to be addicting. The owners and developers of Netflix, Facebook, Fortnight, Snap Chat, Instagram, etc have spent countless hours making their platforms addicting to participants. They exploit common human frailties to bring in more money in forms of advertisement and membership. Because of this, we are currently in an epidemic of addiction that often starts at a very young age. Children and often their parents become addicted to devices with screens. When their phones make a sound, they rush to see what it is. Some even sleep with their phones.
Because we are human, we have power over our lives. We can turn these masters into our servants. We can be disciplined and use electronics to enhance our lives. We can get our lives back. It will not be without cost, emotional pain and perseverance, but it can be done. We can make electronics our faithful servants. We do not need to be ruled by them and we do not need to be distracted by them. We can learn to set goals in our life and spend the time and effort to accomplish these goals. Our electronics can help us if they are our servants and not our master.
If you suspect that you or a loved is a slave to their electronics, here are some good starting points to get a life back:
use parental controls on the WiFi to limit the amount of access family members have on their devices (e.g., BOB, Circle).
the research suggests that anything under 21 hours per week is not associated with anxiety or depression. Work together to help each family member only spend 21 hours per week or less on screen time devices.
become more informed and try some techniques, as needed, by utilizing some of the resources listed below.
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