Health, Happiness & Smartphones

Technology is coming at us like a tsunami. There is simply too much tech to keep up with and we use things like smartphones to do just that. Another sign of the times we live in is the lack of time to reflect on what is happening to us. The combination of a constant flood of information and the lack of time to put all this into perspective may have consequences we can't see.

“Smartphones undoubtedly make our lives easier," says Elizabeth Dunn, PhD, who studies the ways that mobile technology can support or undermine well-being. "Having the entire store of human knowledge at our fingertips is pretty useful, Dunn adds, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia." But there may be trade-offs for that convenience. Mobile technology also has the power to negatively influence our health and happiness, she says. "Our lab has gone looking for pros, but in general we keep finding cons." At their worst, research finds smartphones can mess with our sleep, stress us out and monopolize our attention.

One suggestion is to try and not use smartphones in the evening because they can mess with our sleep patterns. Keeping them close to the bed can be an issue, if you find yourself using it rather than relaxing. Another study showed that people of all generations have succumbed to FOMO, the fear of missing out. This spectacle can be seen playing out on the streets, heads tilted downward, staring into one’s hands, moving about like characters from the walking dead. It is also seen in the constant online updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and so on, and in this obsession with liking things to death. I suppose I should create a clever acronym for this, like FONBL, the fear of not being liked! If you’d like to read the full story and know more about the research mentioned, see the Disconnected article by Kirsten Weir in the APA’s (American Psychology Association) Monitor on Psychology, March digital edition. Bottom line, use moderation in the use of smartphones, and just chill out: being liked is not like, you know, the ultimate meaning of life!

Hans Kuendig, Founder, Mindshift Consulting


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