A New York Times article recently revealed how many people today feel like they are becoming more forgetful and distracted – even losing touch with family members. Could this unfocussed, unengaged behaviour be a result of technology multi-tasking? Linda Stone, a technology behaviour expert, is a contributor to how technology affects our minds, emotions and bodies. She classified the term “continuous partial attention” which is when people pay superficial attention to lots of snippets of information.

Technology today can offer us many levels of satisfaction. It has transformed life, shrinking distances, allowing us to work anywhere and conquer a vast amount of tasks whilst potentially freeing up time for others things. Physiologically our primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities is easily quashed. A “technology hit” can provoke a dopamine surge – our brain neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure. For those of you part of modern diaspora – you may relate to the happy hit felt when seeing pictures of relatives 25 000 miles away on social media.

Some technology multi-taskers say that juggling many things at once is how they feel productive. Research shows us otherwise. If anything it leads to information overload and the lack of ability to filter what information is relevant – resulting in feeling stressed.

Researchers of the University of California have shown constant connectivity takes it’s toll on our brains. Excess amount of time talking to people online as opposed to in person leads to weakening of the circuits that control human contact skills.

Dopamine is wonderful but it is worth considering that it can be addictive – and when we become fixated with technology use, the opposite effect can happen resulting in depression and obsession compulsive disorder.

So what are the reasons for constant technology use?

–             Need to connect with others

–             Feeling of importance

–             Fulfil a need when you are feeling anxious

–             Stimulation

–             Escapism

–             Regain control

If you recognise your technology behaviour as addictive it may be worth asking yourself the questions above. Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder, suggests we take a day off from gadgets – A Digital Detox…

Article written by Leigh Mckay