we've done our research
Technology is designed to addict us. Smartphones are especially good at this as they’re small enough to carry with us everywhere.
Gone are the days when phones were used for phone calls and messages. We now use them for everything – our watch, camera, diary, calculator, alarm clock, music player, wallet/purse... the list is endless. These features are what make our devices so useful and can undeniably make daily life easier. The problem is now, we've become so used to having these tools accessible 24/7 it makes it that much harder to take some time away from the screen.
For most people, their phone is one of the last things they touch at night and one of the first things they touch in the morning. It then normally stays within reach for the rest of the day - when did you last leave your phone at home and why should you?
Addiction may sound extreme but there are of course different levels of addiction and it doesn’t need to mean that it’s completely destroying your life. Dopamine, also known as the ‘feel-good’ hormone, is released in our brains during pleasurable situations. We get satisfaction from dopamine-triggering activities. We can then begin to crave these activities in order to get the ‘feel-good’ feeling again, and in extreme cases this can lead to addiction.
What’s this got to do with technology, you ask? Well, notifications have created an association between checking our phones and getting a reward so we continuously check our phones in anticipation of seeing an interesting message or a ‘like’ on social media.
Research in the UK has estimated that the average person checks their phone around 58 times a day - have you checked your stats? And, how many of those checks are necessary?
Phones, tablets and laptops were all created to aid communication and productivity but in reality they’re doing the opposite. From a mental health perspective, overuse of technology can contribute to feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression. This is without taking into account the impact on sleep (blue light impacts the production of melatonin, the hormone that signals to your body that it's time to sleep) which is not only crucial for the health of your immune system but directly influences your ability to deal with stress and store memories.
Multitasking has been uncovered as a myth but that doesn’t seem to stop us trying to juggle multiple tasks, notifications and messaging platforms. Checking your phone during another activity shifts your focus and it then takes an average of 23 minutes to completely refocus. It’s no wonder our attention spans are reported to be shorter than ever.
It’s not sounding great is it? You can see why we’re concerned. It’s hard to remember a life without smartphones but really they are still a relatively new phenomenon with the first iPhone revolutionising the market in 2007.
The long-term impact is still to be discovered but we truly believe it's something that needs to be talked about as it's only going to get worse. Recently, we've seen more mental health experts speaking out about the potential negative impact of technology and there’s been some really powerful campaigns too. But, is there the help you need to look up, log out and reinvent the way you rely on technology?
We know it’s not as simple as just stating you’re going to use your phone less. That’s why we’ve created our workshops, tools and resources to help individuals and businesses have a healthier relationship with tech.
what are people saying
We truly believe in the benefits of techtimeout, but don’t just take our word for it.
“So much of our time both at work and at home is spent on phones and computers, with notifications popping up here, there, and everywhere. Technology has so much power for good, but only if we also know how to step away from it and give our brain and body the chance to both enjoy the power of connection with people, nature, and rest.
At MHFA England®, we are proudly paving the way for positive mental health in the workplace, and as part of our approach to wellbeing we will be partnering with techtimeout to host this year's digital wellbeing day ‘techtimeout tuesday’ on 28 November to encourage improvements in our digital habits, and we'll be encouraging our network of Mental Health First Aiders to get involved too."
CEO, Mental Health First Aid England
"We’re in the PR & communications business. In today’s digital world that means we inevitably spend a lot of time on tech. The health and well-being of our team is paramount. They know they can take a break, go for a walk, take time out any time of the day but we know all companies aren’t like us. That’s why techtimeout is such a fantastic initiative – by encouraging leaders to engage with staff on the issue of mental health and wellness it has put the issue on the national business agenda."
Be Bold Media
"It's very easy for the act of making time away from the screen to slip down the priority list, so the techtimeout campaign came at a great time in a year where the divide between work and home life has got increasingly blurry. It was great to intentionally get out for a walk at lunchtime and leave my phone at home, and I noticed how much more recharged I felt for the rest of the day. This is definitely something that I would like to keep up!"
Birmingham St Marys Hospice
"In a world where a phone, tablet, computer, games consoles and all the other screens we see daily are prolific, it’s important to step back and appreciate that they're only machines. The initiative by techtimeout was an important idea to me to ensure I help my daughter grow up with a healthy relationship with technology, not just being glued to the thing like I find myself far too often."
"The majority of our employees are being forced to work remotely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and are more reliant than ever on using technology to stay in touch. Their wellbeing is of great concern to us. We encouraged our staff to take 10 minutes away from their laptops, to go for a lunchtime walk, or a walk before or after work as part of techtimeout tuesday."
Cllr. Graham Breeze
Powys County Council
"The techtimeout10 challenge made a huge difference to the team. We all made the effort to turn off and go outside or do something we loved, and we shared what we were doing with each other - everyone had smiles on their faces and it was great for me as a manager to know that my staff were taking some time out for themselves and stepping away from their screens"
Managing Director, J&PR