While technology in itself can be an amazing thing that improves our daily lives in so many ways, the irony is that it can also be very unhealthy if we’re spending too much time wrapped up in our phones, computers, and TVs.
I believe that it’s fully possible to enjoy the benefits of technology, while still maintaining a healthy balance of non-technology time in your life too so that your relationships, health, and happiness don’t suffer as a result of your technology usage.
Today I’m sharing a few signs that might indicate you have an unhealthy relationship with technology. My hope in sharing these is that it might open your eyes to the role that technology plays in your own life so you can evaluate how you are using technology and if there’s a chance you might possibly be abusing it.
If you are looking for even more tips to help you establish a healthy relationship with technology, click here to sign up for Simplify, my free 4-week course.
5 signs you have an unhealthy relationship with technology:
1. You feel nervous or anxious when you go too long without checking your phone
These days, it’s pretty common for many of us to feel a bit anxious when we go for several hours without checking our phones.
Sometimes we may not even realize what a habit it has become until we lose our phone or are unable to check it and then realize how much we rely on it once panic starts to set in. While our phones can be a great convenience and safety device, it’s also not healthy to feel so attached to it that you feel physically anxious when it’s not in your presence.
The solution: Go on regular outings away from your house and purposefully leave your phone at home or completely turned off in your pocket or purse. While it may feel uncomfortable for you at first, the more often you ditch your phone, the easier it will be for you to ditch your habit of incessantly checking it all of the time when it is with you and on. If you struggle with the idea of doing this, then just start small and go for a walk around your neighborhood without your phone glued to you.
If you really want to plunge into taking a break from your phone, try taking a half or full day break from it one day a week (on Sundays perhaps). It can be so refreshing to not feel like you constantly need to check your phone for missed calls, messages, or other notifications.
Related: 6 Reasons You Need to Unplug from Technology
2. Technology has created a wedge in your relationships with others
If you find yourself regularly looking at your phone or using it as entertainment while spending time with others, then technology could very well be creating a wedge in your relationships. Responding to non-urgent calls or texts while spending time with others can send the message that you don’t want to be there or are bored by their company.
The solution: Put your phone away when you are spending time with family and friends. If you are out to dinner with friends, try your very best to enjoy their company and the time you have together. And if you have kids at home that you are worried might need you while you are out, keep your phone “on”, but otherwise don’t be tempted to respond to texts or calls that aren’t urgent.
Related: Ways to Be Fully Present
3. You regularly lose sleep because you stay up too late using technology
This is something I am definitely guilty of at times! I either get sucked into a good TV show and end up staying up late to finish watching it, or find myself getting work done on my laptop into the wee hours of the night. Neither of which are very good for my health or making sure that I’m getting enough sleep!
The solution: Be purposeful about turning off the TV and your phone and shutting down your computer for the night about an hour before your usual bedtime. You can use that time to unwind, read a book, or even prepare for the next day to make your morning easier. Basically, you can do anything except look at a screen! It is a great way to teach your body and mind to calm down and get the sleep your body needs.
Related: Inspiring Books to Help You Live Your Best Life
4. You send text messages or check your phone while driving
I shouldn’t have to warn you about the dangers of looking at your phone while driving, but just in case you need the refresher…. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent–when traveling at 55 mph–of driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded. They say driving and texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
If that statistic doesn’t scare the crap out of you enough to stop texting and driving, I really don’t know what will! Make the safety of yourself and others on the road a priority over your obsession with your phone.
The Solution: While I understand the desire to have your phone on you for safety purposes while driving in case you should get into an accident or need help, that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be in your hand or even within reaching distance. If you are prone to texting or checking your phone while driving, try keeping it in the backseat or even the trunk of your car to remove the temptation.
Related: How Unplugging Can Improve Your Life
5. You lose track of time spent online or watching TV
If you constantly find yourself sitting down on your couch to watch TV, or opening your computer to goof around online for a bit….and then look up and notice that more than an hour or two has passed without you even realizing it, you may definitely have an unhealthy relationship with technology.
It can be easy to allow yourself to get sucked into technology and the entertainment it can provide, but allowing that to happen on a regular basis is never a good thing. You miss out on a whole lot of life that way if your face is just staring at a screen for hours on end every night!
The Solution: Make a list of the things you enjoy but tend to miss out on when you spend too much unnecessary time surfing the internet or getting sucked into hours of watching TV. Then make an effort to spend more time on those activities. Maybe it’s reading more books, working in your garden, or even spending time at your local coffee shop.
Even if you find that all five of these signs apply to you and you’re realizing you have some improvements to make when it comes to the role that technology plays in your life, don’t fret! Just like any other habit, you can develop a healthy and fulfilling relationship with technology so that it doesn’t control your life anymore. You’ve got this!
Don’t forget to sign up for Simplify – my free 4-week course
If you want even more tips to help you establish a healthy relationship with technology, click here to sign up for Simplify, my free 4-week course that will help you to curb the chaos in your life.
Do you have a healthy relationship with technology? Share why or why not in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!
Sarah @ the frugal millionaire blog says
Great post!!! I am definitely guilty of a few of these! When I used FB regularly, I felt like every time I got home from being out I “had” to check it. It was awful!! Now, since I mostly just use it for business, that feeling is completely gone and it’s so much better. I’m definitely guilty of texting a little too much, too 😉 haha!
Hope you have a fantastic day!!
Christina Tiplea says
Thanks Sarah! Ah YES! That feeling of “having” to check is the worst!
Aliyyah @richandhappyblog says
The only one I’m guilty of on this list is using technology to the point where I stay up later than planned. I really need to set a cutoff time at night so that I have some space between my screen time and my bed time.
Christina Tiplea says
I’m a total offender of that one too Aliyyah, I’m working on it too!
I do get stressed if I don’t check my email often enough, but that’s probably because it’s my job to stay connected. The rest of the time I’m fine being away from technology. It’s good for me to stay away from the computer at night because I tend to get headaches when I work really long days.
Christina Tiplea says
Agreed Holly, I like to stay away from my computer at night too if I can. I feel so much more relaxed going to bed!
Whenever I’m out with friends or family I always take a cell phone break- I really want to be in the moment and not be distracted. But I’m totally guilty of spending too much time on Instagram. Sometimes I’ll have spent like 30 minutes on it and am like, what am I doing?!
Christina Tiplea says
Me too Kristin, time with friends and family is my phone-free time. Haha I can get like that with Facebook if I let myself, it’s a sickness!
alexandra @ my urban family says
I’m so guilty of checking my phone too often – even being on social media in bed before going to sleep! I probably should put a stop to that… Thanks for the reminder!
Christina Tiplea says
You bet Alex!
Daisy @ Simplicity Relished says
This is SO good, Christina! It is so easy to spend too much time around technology, thinking we’re “taking care of things” or “connecting with others” or “being authentic.” So much of that stuff truly happens away from the screen. Thanks for writing this!
Christina Tiplea says
Thanks Daisy! And that is so very true!!
Definitely a great post and a real problem for some. I’m proud to say that I don’t really struggle with these issues. However, there was a point when I had problems obsessing over email. I kept thinking that if I didn’t check email all the time I would miss an freelance writing opportunity, etc. However, I stopped it by refraining from checking email first thing in the morning. Then I set designated times from to check my email throughout the day.
Christina Tiplea says
That’s awesome that you don’t struggle with any of these Terri, sounds like you’re really good at setting boundaries with technology! 🙂
This is something I am constantly working on! Because my work mostly online it makes it even harder. I’ve set specific times for me to use my phone for work, but I slack sometimes. Thanks for the reminders!
Christina Tiplea says
You bet Kathleen! I think setting those boundaries is always harder for those of us who have online businesses. It sure isn’t easy setting limits for ourselves and then actually following through!
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
I think this is a struggle off and on for me. Lately, I’m trying to put my phone on do not disturb when i get home from work so that i can focus on what i need to get done after work, relax, and spend more intentional time with my husband. Thanks for these tips! I’m always needing them!
Unfortunately for me, in my current job description it does say ‘need to have 24/7 iphone mentality’. Last week my boss was in India (hello several hours time difference) and we texted / spoke at my midnight almost daily :/
I am trying to ‘unplug’ as much as I can but sometimes it is really hard knowing that me and my phone need to be joined at a hip for work reasons.
I had an unhealthy relationship with instagram but I fixed that a few months ago. The no electronics in the bedroom, which I believe you suggested in a previous post, inspired my boyfriend and I. My boyfriend actually removed the TV from our bedroom this weekend. I’ve been trying to convince him to do that for years, but I’m not confident the TV-less bedroom will last. Only time will tell 🙂
I’m really temped to check my phone whenever I have a ‘moment of nothingness’, but since I became aware of the behavior I put the phone away the moment I realize I don’t have a good reason to check it. It’s good to read that it’s a challenge many people face!
A little over a year ago I realized that I was on my phone way more than I should be, so I spent an entire day without it, expect for answering phone calls. I couldn’t believe how much time it freed up for me to focus on my son! I felt free not having to respond to someone right away! After that day I turned off all my notifications besides texts and calls. Now I have taken most social media off of my phone. Not having social media on my phone removes the pressure to constantly check it.
John Nonemaker says
Thanks for the great tips! One of my goals for May is to work on #1. Tip #5 was an easy fix. I got rid of my cable! It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in the last year.
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Verlenda Darsy says
This is something I am constantly working on! Because my work mostly online it makes it even harder.
Emma @ Emmawritenow says
I am so guilty of getting in bed to fall asleep, only to continue to browse my phone for 3 hours. I don’t even want to know how much sleep I’ve lost because of it. Thanks so much for sharing! Your content was an eye-opener for sure.
I have often had similar thoughts myself and feel scared for the backlash that may come from over-sharing! All people seeing them were a handful of friends and family.
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