I don’t have WhatsApp and notifications are silenced on my phone. These measures to prevent messaging applications and social networks from taking over my time and ruining my attention. A recent Accenture report reveals that more and more people are aware of their dependency on screens and are trying to cut ties to get their lives back.
Does technology simplify or complicate our lives?
The Accenture trends study that analyzes the technological aspects that will occupy a large part of our lives in 2024 reveals some significant data:
• A third of people have already reduced notifications on their smartphones
• One in five users has limited screen time
• A quarter of people have completely deleted apps or do not use smart devices
There is no doubt that technology brings us numerous benefits, such as the possibility of reading a huge amount of information, being able to communicate instantly over great distances, entertaining ourselves, working remotely or even accessing financial and health services. But that relationship is a two-way path.
Accenture found that the more technologies we use regularly, the more likely we are to feel like they are making our lives harder. 41% of users perceive that, on the one hand, these resources make things easier, but on the other, they make them more complex. Some people are even beginning to realize that technology, rather than helping them, gets in the way of achieving their goals.
Distracted, exhausted and half insomniacs
47% of people find the speed at which technology is moving is simply overwhelming, creating a feeling of loss of control that ultimately affects their well-being.
The need to continually pay attention to notifications and the pressure to respond immediately is taking its toll on us. In fact, 31% of users recognize that constant notifications control their use of technology and 27% believe that the problem is endless scrolling.
Technology has an addictive power, there’s no doubt about that. The digital platforms that we find on the Internet have been created precisely with that objective: to keep us glued to the screens consuming more and more content. Therefore, it is not surprising that a meta-analysis that included more than 2 million people from 64 countries concluded that dependence on the digital world is worrying:
• Almost a third of people have symptoms of smartphone addiction
• 17.42% are addicted to social networks
• 14.22% suffer from an Internet addiction
When we are constantly looking at the screens and our thoughts orbit around what is happening online, we end up emotionally and physically exhausted, as a study carried out at Istanbul University found. These researchers noticed that being permanently connected generates fatigue, affects the quality of our sleep and makes us more irritable.
Luckily, more and more people are trying to put their well-being before the digital world. According to Accenture, 37% believe that today, more than ever, it is important to apply critical thinking regarding what technology we choose and the use we give it.
Has the time come to say goodbye to screens?
Technology may have unlimited capabilities, we do not. We only have 16 hours a day and our cognitive functions limit the information we can process properly. This makes using screens, with their respective applications, notifications and updates, becoming a particularly stressful activity.
Managing multiple devices, having different applications open and switching continually from one platform to another generates a significant cognitive load, so it is normal that at a certain point we begin to feel fatigued and wonder if the technology that has been designed to make our lives easier, is stealing our lives.
“Humanity’s relationship with technology is at a crucial point. With the acceleration of innovation, people feel that technology is using them, not the other way around. Looking ahead, the technology industry […] must work to positively contribute to people’s well-being instead of depleting their resources,” said Accenture.
For this reason, it is imperative that any innovation or technological novelty begin to be evaluated from a more humanistic perspective that takes into consideration that our resources (time and attention) are limited. Maybe the question is not “What can we do?” but “What should we do?”
Accenture believes that in the future there will be more and more people who prioritize their analog life and seek well-being outside of the Internet and technology. It doesn’t mean turning your back on it, but rather finding a more satisfying balance in which you reduce app usage to prioritize more meaningful human interactions.
It basically consists of silencing technology when it is not necessary to talk to the people in front of us and enjoy the landscape instead of staring at a screen, trapped in a digital world.
Meng, S. et. Al. (2022) Global prevalence of digital addiction in general population: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Psychol Rev; 92: 102128.
Bener, A. et. Al. (2019) Internet Addiction, Fatigue, and Sleep Problems Among Adolescent Students: a Large-Scale Study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction; 17: 959–969.