The buzzword ‘Tech-Life Balance’ has been around for some time, is it getting enough attention?
This buzzword was brought back to my attention at a recent webinar. Although I have always tried to remain aware of the addictive impact of technology, blue light and social media, it often catches up with me. In basic terms, tech-life balance is a term used to describe the use of technology in a way that doesn’t have a negative impact on one’s personal life or relationships.
Ruled by a ping!
The recent webinar posed the question of whether or not you have ever been mid-conversation when you heard that ping, beep or moving vibration sound from your phone? If so, have you ever stopped and gauged what hearing that sound did to your conversation? Did it, by any chance, distract you from the conversation (even momentarily)? Did it make you move toward your phone? Did you cut the conversation short to check your phone?
Years ago, I got my first smartwatch. I was in a staffroom and had moved tables to talk with a colleague. I received a vibration and notification on my watch indicating I had a message on my phone. What did I do? I went to get my phone!
At that very moment, I knew what I had done. I had, or was becoming, ruled by my phone. As shocking as this seemed at the time, I wonder how unusual this behaviour is in 2022. The situation prompted me to find some perspective. When I reflected, I realised dinner, walks, social occasions, travelling, the list goes on, all involved having a phone nearby. I promptly turned off the notifications on my smartwatch, turned off work email notifications on my phone and set my phone to silent (all of which I still do today).
Is technology impacting your relationships?
Another interesting point posed in the recent webinar was about parenting teenagers. When a teenager initiates interaction with a parent, this opening can last but a fleeting moment, and if parents allow technology to distract them, are these valuable moments being lost? Does this resonate with you? It did with me.
Another aspect to consider, is whether or not these distractions are coming from work communication. Were you aware that in April 2021, Ireland introduced a policy into the employment Code of Practice which gives all workers the right to electronically disconnect at the end of the working day? (Goodin, 2021). Are we ‘workers’ doing this?
In addition, we have all read or heard of concerns over the impact of social media and the over-use of devices on young people. With the rapid speed in which technology is evolving, this needs continued research (Nesi, 2020) but certainly warrants consideration and reminds me of the saying “Do as I say, not as I do!”.
I, for one, know I must consciously stop letting technology rule my world. Ultimately, giving me headspace, reducing stress and calming my mind, allowing me to be more efficient, effective, innovative and fun to be around (and modelling this for students as well as my children). However, I also very much acknowledge the positive impact and opportunities technology offers. I argue it is a case of recognising our need for a tech-life balance and being conscious of maintaining this balance.
Do you need to reflect on your tech-life balance?
Tips to consider:
Some tips to consider, which I have used through the years and work for me (alongside conscious effort and monitoring which doesn’t always win):
- Utilise airplane mode, especially at night time (I don’t turn airplane mode off until after breakfast).
- Use a screen filter to reduce the impact of blue light – especially if you can’t rule out working late at night! Some options can be viewed here.
- Device-free table – have breakfast and dinner without devices.
- Use ad-blockers – this helps me concentrate on one task and one window at a time. It can also declutter the screen for you. There are lots of options for different browsers and devices.
- Spend device free time outdoors, especially over the weekend (as much as possible, leave the phone at home or in the car or airplane mode it!)
- Use a screen time tracker on your device – use your phone’s inbuilt screen time tracker or add an app to do this for you. By setting a target, these apps can make you more aware of how much time you have been looking at the screen. You may be shocked! Have a look at StayFree-Stay Focussed for Android.
- Turn off notifications – this gives you control over when you decide to look at that work email or social media message, you rule the phone not the other way round!
Do you think tech-life balance is important?
Do you have any tips to share?
Goodin, T., 2021. My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open. White Lion Publishing.
Nesi, J. (2020). The Impact of Social Media on Youth Mental Health. North Carolina Medical Journal Mar 2020, 81 (2) 116-121; DOI: 10.18043/ncm.81.2.116