By Laurie Chester
Facebook, email, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Skype, texting, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, blogging, Hulu, Hyper…Smartphones, desktops, laptops, tablets, e-readers…Technology has become an integral part of everyone’s lives in a very short period of time. Anyone under the age of 30 has never known a world without cell phones, personal computers and easily-available Internet. If fact, for adolescents and young adults, technology is a fundamental part life — as important to them as having air to breathe. We would be hard pressed to exist without it.
Technology itself is neither good nor bad; it simply is. In many ways, technology simplifies life; it helps us to organize ourselves, to exchange both professional and personal correspondence, to meet people worldwide, to find needed information, to share our thoughts and experiences and to express ourselves artistically and intellectually.
But the need for self-management that technology use requires creates significant challenges for everyone and places constant demands on our executive function skills. For those with ADHD, who are often overloaded by life in general, throwing technology management into the mix can be particularly problematic.
For some, technology use can take over day-to-day life. Difficulty with managing time, interpersonal interactions and starting and completing tasks/jobs often trace back to poorly controlled technology use. Dr. Larry Rosen, a professor and international expert in the field of the "psychology of technology” believes that poor management and overuse of technology can lead to the development of symptoms of psychological disorders and lead to diminished life balance. The need to be constantly connected becomes a driving force in determining what one does throughout the day and can result in stress, lack of sleep and an obsessive need to be connected.
Luckily there are ways to avoid the slippery slope toward a technology-induced disaster area. Taking a few simple steps and asking yourself some simple questions can help you achieve a more balanced style of technology use management. Reflecting on your technology use can help you improve your self-awareness and give your brain a chance to reboot and calm. Learning to monitor your own behavior and emotions (for technology use, of course, but for all you do as well) is a useful skill for all, and one that usually demands extra effort for adults with ADHD.
Ask yourself the following Technology Use Awareness questions to raise your awareness about your own technology use.
1. If I lost my cell phone, I would feel______________.
I try to avoid the distractions of technology by__________________________.
3. When I read, I need the environment around me to be_____________________.
4. When I am doing schoolwork or desk work, I can listen to ________________kind of music.
5. I send ______(#) of texts a day; I receive _______(#) of texts each day.
6. On average, I spend ______________ time each day using technology for non-work or school related tasks.
7. How much time elapses between the last use of technology in a day and going to bed__________?
8. The first piece of technology that I actively use each morning is___________, usually________ (hours, minutes?) after I wake up.
9. When I need to get a task done, I reduce potential distraction from my phone or other technology by___________________.
When I need to quiet my mind, I____________________________________.
Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to technology use goes a long way to help you to curb your behavior. Another way is to take the time to allow your brain to basically "chill out.” Here are some "Chill Out” ideas on how to help your brain reboot and revive itself.
Institute "technology free” zones in your home.
Institute "technology free” times of the day.
Go outside (without any electronic devices) and experience nature.
Get exercise (even 10 minutes is better than nothing).
Express your creativity; play a musical instrument or draw/paint.
Go to a museum.
Take a hot shower or bath.
Talk (in person) to a friend or neighbor.
Taking these simple steps will help to revitalize your spirit, calm your brain and help put you back in the technology use driver’s seat (without your phone!)
Laurie Chester, BCC, SCAC, ACC, has been coaching 10 years. Her focus and passion is helping adolescents and young adults gain control over the organizational and production demands of school and life, as well as broadening and sharpening their understanding of their brain and AD/HD. For additional information, visit www.laurieandkim.com.