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Finding Balance in a Tech World


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The Internet and various other forms of technology are here to stay. They make our lives easier in many ways, but they can be addictive and, at times, cause more harm than good. Dr. Mike Brooks reviewed some of the positive and negative effects of technology and discussed the importance of finding a balanced life in our increasingly tech-dependent society to the 9th grade students at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas on April 27, 2010.

Published in: Technology, Health & Medicine
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Finding Balance in a Tech World

  1. 1. Finding Balance in a Tech World<br />By <br />Mike Brooks, Ph.D., LSSP<br />Licensed Psychologist<br />Licensed Specialist in School Psychology<br />Director: Austin Psychology & <br />Assessment Center <br />(ApaCenter –<br />April 27, 2010<br />
  2. 2. You Have Zero Friends<br /><br />
  3. 3. What We’ll Cover<br />Tech Usage Stats<br />Benefits of Technology<br />Areas of Concern<br />Tech Addiction<br />Finding Balance: What can we do about it?<br />
  4. 4. A Few Introductory Thoughts<br />Technology isn’t good or bad – it just is<br />Books are inherently better? No way!<br />Uses of a brick? <br />There’s no turning back, only moving forward<br />Parents: Don’t judge your teens!<br />Teens: Don’t judge your parents!<br />Caution: Our brains did not evolve to be in the world in which we now live<br />
  5. 5. Tech Usage Stats<br />Kaiser Family Foundation study found that kids ages 8-18<br />Spend 7.5 hours per day using tech on average<br />Or 52.5 hours per week<br />270 minutes/day watching TV<br />73 minutes/day playing video games<br />90 minutes/day text messaging<br />89 minutes/day in non-school computer use<br />
  6. 6. Facebook Usage Stats<br />More than 400 million active users<br />Average user spends 55 minutes on FB per day<br />8 billion minutes spent on FB per day (or over 15,000 human years spent per day)<br />50% of active users log on every day<br />3 billion photos uploaded every month<br />100 million users access FB by mobile devices<br />Mobile users are 50% more active than non-mobile users<br />
  7. 7. Benefits of Technology<br />Benefits?: Your thoughts & examples<br />Fun<br />Connections/Relationship Building<br />Makes Life More Efficient<br />Power/Esteem<br />Creativity/Innovation<br />Freedom & Discovery<br />Education/Learning<br />
  8. 8. New Technologies?<br />Dropbox<br />iPad – anyone have one/want one?<br />Xbox Natal:<br />Other technologies?<br />
  9. 9. Areas of Concern<br />Gaming – Can have benefits. Not proven to increase aggression, but potential is there.<br />Sexting – You can be prosecuting for child pornography. It can spread and be there FOREVER.<br />Tech Addictions – Lots of sources. It is a major problem.<br />Texting & Driving – 23x more likely to crash.<br />Multitasking – we task switch.<br />Cyberbullying – Can devastate recipients. <br />Porn – Um, don’t look at it. It will rot your brain!<br />
  10. 10. Tech Addiction – Is There Such a Thing?<br />My experiences<br />Your experiences (without divulging any private/embarrassing information!)<br />What teens (& adults) tend to be getting addicted to…<br />
  11. 11. Tech Addictions<br />MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games)<br />WoW, Everquest II, LOTR Online, City of Heroes, Star Wars Galaxies, Runescape, Guild Wars, Sims Online<br />Other video games – Halo 3, Modern Warfare 2, Guitar Hero<br />Second Life<br />Facebook, My Space, Twitter<br />FarmVille<br />Texting<br />Email<br />Blackberries, iPhone<br />YouTube<br />eBay<br />Surfing<br />Porn <br />
  12. 12. A Problem of Definition<br />“Addiction” is a hypothetical construct<br />No blood test for it or brain scan for it <br />We can do brain scans and “see” addiction, but it still arbitrary as to when it crosses a threshold<br />Is addiction merely describing an extreme range of a behavior or is it something more?<br />When does frequent engagement cross the magic threshold into addiction? <br />What about someone who swims/plays an instrument 5 hours per day? <br />How do we know when/if we are “addicted” to tech?<br />Examples? Do you have a “friend” who is addicted?<br />
  13. 13. Signs of Addiction<br />Two classic signs apply to drugs/alcohol <br />Increased tolerance<br />Physiological withdrawal<br />Significant negative functional impact on at least 2 major life domains<br />School/work<br />Friends, family<br />Emotional well-being<br />Sleep<br />
  14. 14. Why Tech Can Be Addictive<br />Positive Reinforcement<br />Social comparison<br />Power/Esteem needs met<br />Ease of access<br />Anonymity<br />Freedom<br />Variety<br />Social connections<br />Discovery<br />Find “flow” (i.e., get in “the zone”)<br />Anticipation<br />
  15. 15. This Is Your Brain on Tech<br />Many “addictive” technologies have a the “Vegas Effect” built into them (Tetris, Halo 3, texting, Facebook)<br />Anticipation– what might happen next?<br /> Dopamine, a pleasure chemical in the brain, gets released when we are in a state of anticipation<br />
  16. 16. Vegas, Baby!<br /><br />
  17. 17. The Vegas Effect & “Addictive” Behaviors<br />Gambling <br />Fishing & hunting<br />Christmas? Easter egg hunts?<br />American Idol, Survivor, Project Runway, Top Chef, & many other reality TV shows<br />Pokémon Cards and any card collecting<br />FB, My Space, Twitter, texting, email, etc.<br />
  18. 18. I got a Wii!!!!!!!!<br /><br />
  19. 19. Pokémon Ecstasy<br /><br />
  20. 20. Help!<br />Suggestions on managing my son’s tech time?<br />
  21. 21. Finding Balance with Tech<br />Don’t get hung up on whether you are “addicted” <br /> Ask yourself: Is it a problem?<br />When have you been happiest in life that doesn’t involve tech? What are real world activities that you find fun/engaging?<br />Reconnect with those!<br />
  22. 22. Finding Balance with Tech<br />Set some goals for grades, sports, other hobbies, homework time, income generation<br />Prioritize them<br />Determine how much tech time would still allow you to reach those goals<br />Track your tech time<br />
  23. 23. Be Proactive About Tech Time<br />Avoid tech/games (e.g., WoW) that inherently require lots of time<br />Make tech less accessible <br />No TV/game system in your bedroom<br />Turn off the alert/ringer on the cell<br />Don’t keep FB running in the background when online<br />Turn cell off at a certain time at night <br />
  24. 24. Be Mindful<br />Mindfulness is being aware of thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and sensations without judging them<br />In a way, being mindful is the opposite of acting impulsively or without thinking<br />Mindfulness exercise<br />Mindfulness allows you the space to:<br />Ask if what you are doing helping you get what you want? <br />Ask this question of yourself before you engage in an activity – become an observer of your thoughts & behaviors<br />Readjust what you are doing to find balance & achieve your goals<br />You CAN have your cake & eat it too…if you work at this.<br />