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It seems more and more frequently people are viewing technology as a double-edged sword. People find all kinds of wonderful things with technology’s help: spouses, communities, recipes, books, “life hacks”, meditation apps, therapists. The world is at our fingertips!

On the flipside, we see teens on their phones for over six hours a day and 50% of those teens feeling addicted to their phones (according to a recent report from Common Sense Media). We see the average American checking their phone 46 times per day, a 39% increase from the year prior (according to a 2015 study by Deloitte). And it’s not just the sheer amount of unproductive time we’re spending on our devices, there’s real mental health implications. A study by the University of Pittsburgh linked social media use to increased depression and anxiety.

So if technology has both benefits and drawbacks, what’s a person to do? To live with it is risking being unproductive and unhappy, but to live without it is completely impractical!

Luckily, there’s a way to keep technology in your life while mitigating all the negative aspects. Simply put, the secret to a healthier relationship with technology is to be more intentional with when and why you use it.

There are times when technology is conducive to what’s happening and other times when it’s disruptive. Having a conversation? Don’t look at your phone. Stay engaged and present with that person. Trying to meet a deadline? Turn your phone on silent, block social media sites for a chunk of time, and get to work. Find yourself checking work email during quality time with friends and family? Create a plan with your colleagues to call you in emergencies; otherwise, you’ll get back to them on matters in the morning. You’ll be surprised how much more relaxed, productive, and connected you’ll feel if you start really being mindful of when you’re using your devices.

Technology at its best helps us be more efficient and connect us with others. But if you’re using technology to avoid the real world, isolate, or procrastinate, you either already have an unhealthy relationship with technology or you’re on your way there. Instead of turning to technology to feed into and perpetuate your negative emotions and habits, do yourself a favor and take an honest look at why you’re retreating into technology. Through this awareness, you can turn things around for yourself and be able to use technology healthily and freely without the baggage.

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Feel like technology is ruining your life and relationships? Contact Dr. Crystal I. Lee to see how she can help you foster a healthier relationship with technology.