I love technology and the new age disruption renaissance it’s ushering in across the globe. I’m an early adopter and evangelist to a few select tech companies. I’ve waited in long lines for product launches and have always pre-ordered the latest tech gadgets so that I could spend countless hours consuming the content they produce or the services they provide. I’m also a digital marketing professional, nerd, and overall tech connoisseur, but becoming a parent has provided new moments of enlightenment or clarity that have helped me evolve.
Technology has changed our lives. We live in an era where information is readily accessible and distributed to countless people across the globe. We practically consume everything through a digital screen, and somehow recently I can’t help but notice that those screens now have our attention almost all of the time.
The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one, but waking up to this new reality has been hard to digest. I basically felt like this in the video below…
I know this to be true because I spent my career trying to fight for a part of that attention to sell products which would ultimately keep you glued to your screen and promise greater efficiency, productivity or just fun. As a marketing professional, I even bought into the same seductive pitch whether it was from a salesperson or the content I was encountering on a daily basis.
Today I see more people not looking up or enjoying their immediate surroundings, but rather their heads are down and entirely consumed by the content on their screens. As a parent with two beautiful young children, they require my attention, and I can rarely afford the distraction of any mobile device or display. Enjoying their company and chasing them around has been an eye-opening experience because I notice this same pattern the more places we visit.
It would seem that every day more articles were published that would provide more insight into this trend I was starting to observe around me. The Atlantic published one of the most detailed statistical reports that really resonated with me the most. The article argues that smartphones and the amount of time an entire generation spends looking at a screen are creating a severe mental-health crisis.
To help wrap my brain around this new reality that has come into focus, I started to do more research and take action. A great resource has been The Center for Humane Technology. They have been fighting to reverse the current digital attention crisis and realigning technology with humanity's best interests. Their team is led by former tech insiders and CEOs who intimately understand what is at stake.
No one expects countless millions to just stop using their smartphones or other fantastic technology that continues to evolve in miraculous ways. But now may be the best time to practice more restraint or moderation, so we don’t become mindless screen zombies that prevent us from enjoying the wonders around us. There is always room for improvement, and it seems that we are indeed at a tipping point that will leave lasting impacts on us and future generations.
We couldn't think of a better way to help with this cause than to partner with the Center for Humane Technology. Together we hope to share more insightful research to create awareness and help more people take action against this growing trend. The goal is to advocate more humane design which means understanding our most vulnerable human instincts so we can protect them from being abused. Also, we want to spark a cultural awakening so that everyone understands the best ways to identify technology whose goals are truly aligned with their own.