Elec­tronic de­vices can be a great tool but overuse can rob us of a full life

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Me­gan McGrath

I’M sure some peo­ple, in­clud­ing my­self, can say that they are guilty of the daily and sense­less swip­ing and click­ing and ‘lik­ing.’ The need to post and share our lives, along with read­ing the up­dates of others, is a bizarre be­hav­ior we have and it is gain­ing mo­men­tum at a se­ri­ous rate. Most im­por­tantly it is hurt­ing our re­la­tion­ships and is de­valu­ing what it means to be in the here and now.



Re­cently, I met a girl­friend for cof­fee and as soon as she sat down she put her phone on the ta­ble - I had guessed she was ex­pect­ing an im­por­tant call…ap­par­ently not! She pro­ceeded to ‘check’ it at ev­ery beep or ring. Just me or is that rude? She’d glance at the screen, read the text, text back a re­sponse and then at­tempted to recom­mence our frag­mented con­ver­sa­tion. I left feel­ing de­flated and dis­ap­pointed at our lack of con­nec­tion.

This morn­ing at my daugh­ter’s swim­ming les­son, I sat be­mused as I watched most par­ents spend the en­tire class with their heads in their phones. Their lit­tle per­son’s face would look up ex­pec­tantly for praise from time to time – nope, no, noth­ing…too busy! My hus­band and I were out at din­ner last week and I no­ticed a gag­gle of laugh­ter and de­light as a group of young women gath­ered for a ladies’ night. Any­how, about an hour into the evening one of them asked the waiter to take a photo of the group. Ev­ery sin­gle one of them, from then on had their face in their phone. I am guess­ing they were fil­ter­ing, fram­ing and mak­ing the shot look per­fect be­fore up­load­ing to so­cial me­dia. To sit and watch the demise of this ex­change was sad.


The prob­lem is that as we move in and out of pay­ing at­ten­tion, our con­ver­sa­tions be­come light, los­ing much of its au­then­tic pos­si­bil­ity.

Even as we claim to ‘con­nect’ more than ever be­fore via text, e-mail and so­cial me­dia, we don’t lis­ten in­tently any more amid the con­stant in­ter­rup­tion. Whether we’re tex­ting with others who are not present, scan­ning the In­ter­net or en­joy­ing the in­stant gratification of Face­book likes, many of us now rou­tinely in­ter­rupt face time with loved ones to scratch the itch of on­line dis­trac­tion.

Of course, mo­bile tech­nol­ogy does play an in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant role in all mod­ern jobs (and life). Whether it’s check­ing in via email in the evening while you’re on the move, or con­nect­ing with some­one far away, smart­phones en­able us to plug in con­ve­niently and ef­fi­ciently. How­ever, there is a very real flip­side. Our pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with our phones en­croaches on our time spent deep­en­ing re­la­tion­ships, con­nect­ing, see­ing, lis­ten­ing, re­flect­ing and be­ing in the mo­ment.

Facts: In 2013, A Nielsen study found that 82 per­cent of Aus­tralians spend an av­er­age of 23.3 hours on­line each week – up from 2003 study where 73 per­cent of peo­ple spent an av­er­age of 6.7 hours on­line. That is an enor­mous chunk of time that we spend with our face in a phone or de­vice.

So how badly do you de­pend on your phone?

• Do you sleep with your phone be­side your bed and check it as soon as you wake up? • Are you likely to post some­thing on so­cial me­dia and check for ‘likes’ five min­utes later?

• Do you check emails or text in traf­fic?

• Do you re­view and re­spond to each in­com­ing mes­sage, alert or beep?

• Do you have dis­tracted con­ver­sa­tions with fam­ily mem­bers?

Here are a few ba­sic ideas around do­ing a ‘dig­i­tal detox’:

• Turn off all your de­vices at a de­fined time each day, say 9pm and have one day each week with­out ac­cess.

• Keep your phone in a glove­box when you are driv­ing, on silent or in your bag if you are so­cial­iz­ing with friends.

• Get off line at least one hour prior to go­ing to bed. Look­ing at your screen can re­duce mela­tonin lev­els af­fect­ing your qual­ity of sleep.

• Don’t have your phone in the bed­room or with you dur­ing meal times.

• When you are with your fam­ily and friends, as much as pos­si­ble avoid ac­cess­ing your tech­nol­ogy – it’s not good man­ners. With­out our phones to dis­tract, we can ex­pe­ri­ence mo­ments. When we are freed up to take no­tice… there is a real beauty in notic­ing life. The ben­e­fits of real-time, face-to­face con­ver­sa­tion can’t be un­der­stated. The short­list of what it fos­ters in­cludes em­pa­thy above all else, but also trust and re­spect, dis­cov­ery, pa­tience, grat­i­tude, mind­ful­ness, con­nec­tion and hap­pi­ness.

Me­gan McGrath is pas­sion­ate about sup­port­ing and em­pow­er­ing women to­wards achiev­ing healthy, bal­anced and ful­fill­ing lives. She helps cre­ate sus­tain­able change for pos­i­tive last­ing re­sults and is proud to have helped count­less peo­ple thrive and flourish on their well­ness jour­ney. Me­gan has a Health Sci­ence de­gree, is a pro­fes­sional ac­cred­ited Well­ness Coach, a cer­ti­fied Fit­ness Trainer and Founder of Chas­ing Sun­rise – a Health and Well­ness Con­sul­tancy.

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