2014
04.30

I can’t help but chuckle every time I hear people say we are becoming a society that is addicted to our mobile devices. The reason I snicker is that there is no “becoming” in any of this. We are addicted. Plain and simple. Don’t get me wrong, I write about technology every day. I espouse the use of technology in both our professional and personal lives. I personally love technology. And there is no getting around the fact that I am personally inspired by transformative leaders of all this innovative technology.

However, with all this being said, I have to ask: Have our bad habits created a society of zombies? I know there are studies out there that say if you check your apps more than 60 times a day you are hooked. I really don’t believe I have to waste the time of a group of highly educated psychologists to confirm what I can observe for myself. I think it’s pretty obvious if we are checking our mobile phones and our apps every 15 or 20 minutes then our gadgets are clearly hijacking our attention—and perhaps our manners. Now don’t get me wrong, perhaps that’s your job. And there are always exceptions to every rule. But let’s talk about the average person.

As I see it, when we can’t get into our cars without reaching for our phone there’s a problem. When we are in the restroom and we have to bring our gadgets with us, there’s an issue. What about at dinner? Is checking social media more important than spending quality time with our family? When we can’t enjoy a relaxing evening with friends without checking our texts, something is clearly awry. Do we care more about looking at our electronic devices than common courtesy? Here are the facts: More than 3,300 people are killed every year as a result of driver distraction. Driver distraction is increasing as a result of texting and talking on our cellphones.

All month long we have been discussing the cognitive distraction on our ability to stay focused on our driving. What we haven’t really considered is the impact on the higher level of cognitive functions such as creative problem solving. I never even understood the detrimental impact this is having on all of us until I interviewed Paul Atchley, a professor at the University of Kansas on my radio show, (The Peggy Smedley Show) yesterday. Paul helped me realize if we disconnect from our phones even for only four days and go into nature, our creativity goes up by as much as 50%. Imagine the productivity gains of our children, employees, students, and even drivers.

He also pointed out we would process emotions better. After hearing that little tidbit, I have decided that I am now blaming all my emotional outbursts on all the people who call me on my cellphone. So the real lesson here is that we need to be more in tune with nature and less with a ring, bing, and a tweet.

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