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18 January 2015

Look Up - Can you break your mobile addiction?

Written by: Lucy Davies, Associate Director at Edelman

Consumer Trends & Insight, Technology

If I challenged you not to look at your mobile device for at least an hour, could you do it? Could you discipline yourself enough to resist the temptation of looking at the next email, Facebook post, or your celeb gossip column of choice?

According to research by Microsoft (Edelman client), a large majority of us check our mobile devices within the first 15 minutes of our day. We’ve become so accustomed to snacking on information that we have turned into a ‘head down’ generation with our faces constantly buried in technology. This high calorie information is so addictive, it makes us feel good, it gives us what Dave Coplin (chief envisioning officer at Microsoft) calls ‘a quick dopamine hit’ – essentially the reward mechanism in the brain which leaves us wanting more.

Being a glutton for information has given rise to ‘infobesity’ – the concept that we’re constantly overdoing on information which is having a negative impact on our concentration levels, productivity and ability to sleep well. Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep and energy management expert and author of Tired But Wired, recently visited Edelman to talk about exactly this. As technology continues to develop, we find ourselves going at full capacity. We’re constantly connected to information and technology that many of us find it difficult to switch off. This means it’s very easy to start running off adrenalin – a survival mechanism that the body deploys.

Technology is by no means the villain; over the years it has evolved to help us to do so many brilliant and wonderful things, such as connecting with relatives on the other side of the world at the touch of a button, the ability to proactively monitor our health, or plan our days with minimal fuss and disruption. It’s our use of technology which is sometimes where problems occur – when it starts controlling us rather than vice versa.

As technology continues to play an increasingly significant role in our daily lives, we need to find new ways of being more aware and mindful of our habits in order to get the most out of it. We will only benefit from the transformational impact of technology and the life changing things it enables us to do if we use it in the right way, in the right place and at the right time. We essentially need to find ways of controlling temptation before it controls us, which can leave us potentially stressed, anxious and tired. The easiest place to start is by putting your phone down and looking up.

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