Over the last several years, data breaches and privacy concerns have become more prevalent. In response, we’ve prioritized safety in our homes and our cars. Shouldn’t we apply the same vigilance to tech?
We are spending more time online and increasingly looking at our screens. The start of the new year is an exciting time to examine our lives and work to improve how we approach certain areas of life. Technology should be no different. Here are a few tech resolutions to make and consider in the coming year.
I will set healthy boundaries with screens
According to Nielsen, Americans ages 35 and up spend up to 10 hours every day in front of screens. We consult shopping lists on iPhone Notes, watch reruns of West Wing just before bed and monitor our steps through health tracker devices at every waking hour.
While these tools have made life more efficient in many ways, it’s easy to see how screens can quickly take over our days. Just as we’d confront a neighbor who popped by every four minutes, we have to keep our devices in check.
This year, resolve to cut back. As with any healthy relationship, boundaries can be positive. Consider imposing a rule — no phones in the same room after 9 p.m., say, or no screens (only coffee!) until 8 a.m. each morning. This will give you the needed space in each day that we are allowing screens to gobble up.
Both Apple and Google offer tools to gain information about how much time you spend on your devices. Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing can also help you wind down at night with Wind Down mode for Digital Wellbeing and Downtime for Screen Time.
I will clean up my storage
Make Marie Kondo proud: Get rid of unused, duplicate files and apps that can bog down your laptop and smartphone. Over the course of a year, think about how many photos you snap or apps you download for one-time-only use. Getting rid of old documents, duplicate files, no-longer-needed downloads and programs can speed up your device — and leave you feeling more in control.
I will stop driving distracted
First of all, holding your phone in the car might be against the law where you live. Nearly half of all states prohibit drivers from using hand-held devices while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. If you’re driving 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed!
The bottom line: Whatever it is, it can wait. Even the most innocent glance at a phone can be extremely dangerous or even fatal. Resolve to be smarter: Just don’t do it.
I will eat meals in a screen-free environment
In all its helpful and useful wonder, technology also has, in many ways, robbed us from a fundamental connection with other humans. Scrolling through hundreds of Instagram photos a few times a day does not mean you’re connected with or tuned into a friend’s life.
Sitting down to a nice meal often can be the only time you have to genuinely connect every day. Leaving your phone in another room while you eat (and turning off other devices!) not only gives you a much-needed meditative space, it’s a time to connect with others, if you’re sharing that meal.
I will turn off all unnecessary device notifications
Let’s return to the idea of setting boundaries. You know those pesky neighbors who stop by several times a day? What if they rang your doorbell every 42 seconds? That would be considered obnoxious, no? Dings and buzzes are created to encourage engagement and to remind the user, Hey! I’m here!
Disabling all alerts from your apps is a great way to start restoring your sanity. And as we all know, phones and social media apps are addictive enough without constant alerts reminding us to engage.
I will stop spreading information I don’t know to be true
Given today’s media landscape, with so many people turning to social media platforms for news, this one is so important. Picture this: Someone you know posts that a restaurant you love is closing. Stop! Breathe. Before you fire this off to hundreds of followers in disgust and mourning, check the facts. Is the source primary (in other words, the restaurant’s site itself)? Is this a reputable source? How do you know this is true?
We’ve given you some good tips on how to avoid bogus information and Lifehacker shares a good article on how to avoid spreading myths and misinformation. Bottom line: Vow to avoid passing along information you don’t know to be true.
As you consider these tech resolutions to make in the New Year, be sure to stay tuned to our Resource Center for all the latest insights on our connections to technology.