Do you spend too much time with your mobile? | Technology

Do you spend too much time with your mobile? | Technology

Every time we waste more time distracted with our phones, which is happening important bill to our physical and mental well-being.

According to an annual survey on trends on the Internet, in 2017 the adult population of the United States He spent an average of three hours and 20 minutes a day busy with their mobile phones and tablets, twice as many as two years ago. Another survey It indicates that most of that time is spent on dubiously productive activities, such as Facebook, games and other social networks.

Bad news, because the studies made by me and by other specialists show that the excessive use of technology is related to depression, accidents and even death.

Do you spend too much time with your mobile?

Perhaps paradoxically, the creators of computer programs have been at the forefront of initiatives to solve the problem by developing applications whose purpose is to help users to disconnect from their devices. Some of them reward you or even "punish you" for depriving you of using your mobile phone for a period of time previously set. Others completely prevent you from accessing certain sites or activities.

Now, what is the reason why some work better than others? Behavioral sciences, in which I am specialized, can shed some light on it.

Why we need help

The technology it is thought to be addictive, and to a "mobile-dependent" society, it is difficult to do without, even a few minutes, their smartphones enabled with applications.

This addiction has consequences.

As is logical, the most serious are those that end in death, such as those resulting from distractions behind the wheel or even of taking a selfie.

But, in addition, it has a high cost for our mental health, as my research has shown. An experiment What I did with a partner discovered that looking at the Facebook profiles of people having fun at a party awoke a feeling of not belonging to the new students of the university. Another study It indicated that people who spent more time using social networks were less happy.

In short, the constant connection of our mobile phones to the Internet - and our constant connection to our mobile phones - implies that we neglect the emotional bond with those who matter most to us. In the process, the happiness of the whole world decreases.

Disconnection attempts

The good thing is that most of us are not susceptible to the negative effects of technology and we want to fiercely disconnect.

As expected in a market economy, companies do everything possible to give us what we want. Some examples are a technology company based in Brooklyn that sells basic mobiles without Internet connection, the hotels that offer discounts to families if they give up their mobile phones during their stay, and the tourist complexes that organize packages around the idea of ​​creating sacred spaces in which consumers leave your devices at home.

Do you spend too much time with your mobile?

The developers of applications have also been up to the challenge with programs whose function is to help us use our mobile less. The behavioral sciences offer us some ideas about what characteristics we should look for in a productivity application.

Setting a goal is fundamental

Studies advise that we download applications that ask us to notice specific goals related to concrete actions. Make commitments in advance it can be a powerful motivation, even more than the economic incentives.

MomentFor example, ask your users to set specific objectives that have to do with the use of technology and link them to daily actions, such as reducing the use of technological devices every time you send or receive an invitation through of the electronic calendar. Offtime it refreshes your memory with a warning when you are about to exceed the limits of Internet activity that you yourself have decided.

Flipd it goes one step further and completely and effectively blocks certain mobile applications when the user has exceeded certain pre-set targets - even if he tries to restart the device - which makes him no more than compromise applications. Similarly, Cold Turkey Blocker it literally prevents users from accessing any other function of their computer for a certain period of time until they have completed a task set by themselves, such as writing.

The default settings are your friends

Choose an application that helps you change your "default settings".

In A little push, the award-winning book of Nobel laureate Richard Thaler and Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein, for example, the authors show how to modify the default settings of a company's retirement plan - asking its employees to choose not to participate in it on the contrary- facilitates the achievement of an objective like save enough for the elderly.

The applications of our mobiles can also benefit from this method. Freedom is an example of a program that automatically prevents users from visiting applications and web pages that distract them, such as social networks and video games. Ransomly change the default configuration of a room - the dining room, say, so that it is free of phones and screens. For this purpose, it uses a sensor and an application that automatically switches off all the devices that are nearby.

In short, look for applications that change the default configuration of your mobile in such a way that it helps you to achieve your goals.

Awards and punishments

Another good strategy is to choose an application that works with prizes.

As usual, we give great value to the rewards earned with effort, even if they have no economic value. Our mobile, in fact, usually takes advantage of this idea, as it happens with the various applications that offer "badges" for reaching certain sporting achievements every day.

Do you spend too much time with your mobile?

Some productivity applications, such as DeliberateThey also incorporate these rewards, granting users interchangeable points for prizes -such as discounts in stores and yoga classes- when they meet their time objectives in front of the screen. Since static rewards become discouraging over time, choose an application that gives you varied and surprising awards.

An even more powerful motivation than winning a prize may be losing it. The explanation is that studies show that losing has greater repercussions on behavior than winning, so if you seriously intend to change the way you behave, try an application that causes you significant losses. Some examples are Beeminder, which charges five dollars of your credit card for each unfulfilled goal, or Forest, which provides the opportunity to grow a nice animated tree (or to see it wither slowly and die) depending on whether or not the goals related to technology have been achieved.

Persevere is worth it

Perseverance is one of the most difficult parts when it comes to fulfilling a new goal, from losing weight to learning to cook.

Research indicates that investing in social motivations, as the need for integration, can be an incentive for a lasting behavior change. Some applications that involve your friends and family, such as Ransomly, are more likely to promote it.

The constant connection to the devices undermines happiness, relationships and productivity. Applications that benefit from the latest findings from the behavioral sciences can help us disconnect and continue living our lives.

Ashley Whillans She is an Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School.

Disclosure clause

Ashley Whillans receives funding from the Brain Mind and Behavior Interfaculty Initiative and the Human Behavior Initiative at Harvard University. He is also a member of the Behavioral Sciences Group of the Provincial Government of British Columbia and advises on the subject of Edleman and Maritz. None of these organizations directly benefits from this article.

This article was originally published in English on the web The Conversation.

Translation of News Clips.

The Conversation


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