Have you heard about the loneliness epidemic? It’s caused by social isolation. Why does this matter? Because, an 80-year Harvard study states that “loneliness kills.” Many people have heard about how babies in 3rd-world orphanages can die from “failure to thrive” or “lack of love.” One study shows that one in five Americans report being lonely at any given time. Other studies show it to be one in three.
Although the elderly are considered to be one of the loneliest groups, there is another group that is shown to be even lonelier. The Millennials are actually shown to be even lonelier than their elders.
Social isolation and loneliness have been shown to be more harmful than smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. It increases depression and causes both mental and physical decline, not to mention emotional pain. Furthermore, social disconnection has a huge effect on longevity.
What’s the cause of this social isolation? Among other factors, research indicates that spending too much time on our devices and not enough face-to-face time with other people is partly to blame for the world-wide increase in social isolation and loneliness.
How do we avoid this and/or overcome it? Here’s one simple yet powerful idea…Follow this wise counsel from Michael Hyatt: “Spend more time with those you love WITHOUT a DEVICE.” In other words, don’t let your DEVICES become DIVISIVE. Learn to TRULY LOVE the ONE you’re with!
It really can be that simple! Here are 5 things you can do to decrease the negative social effects of technology and enjoy the positive effects of quality relationships.
- Set a daily limit on the amount of time you spend on technology. You don’t need to check your inbox every 5 minutes. Commit to checking it only 3 times a day. When you reach your time limit for technology use, exercise your willpower and put your device away until the next day.
- Love the one you’re with. You can do this by intentionally choosing to engage fully with others, face-to-face. Make dinner time a no-tech time. Put all devices away when you’re with your family, friends, loved ones and others. If a call or text comes in, contact them later. If it’s urgent, excuse yourself, take care of the matter, then come back ready to fully engage again.
- Take a technology break (for a day, or even a week) just to prove to yourself that there are other great things you can fill your life with. During the break, reward yourself by doing something you’ve always wanted to do but never felt that you had the time. Take up a new hobby, read a great book, visit a friend, enroll in a class, get outdoors, do your favorite sport, go out with friends, have a party (a no-tech party that is). You can also attend live events, such as plays, concerts or sporting events. Do whatever sounds the most rewarding to you.
- Set an example for your kids by prioritizing relationships over technology. If you are staring at your devices all day, so will they. If the whole family is engrossed in technology than you’re losing valuable relationships building time. Kids don’t stay kids forever, you know. Consider engaging together in the simple fun of yesteryear, such as planting a garden together, playing board games, or laying out under the stars together.
- Invest in people not devices. Stop investing in more and more electronic games, apps, and other devices and start investing in real people, real relationships, and real adventures.
So remember, don’t let YOUR devices become divisive. Life is short. Make the time you spend with others and the relationships you build take the highest priority in your life! As you do so, you’ll enjoy lasting rewards in your health, happiness, longevity, and all of your relationships.