Over the last decade I have had the opportunity to become certified in several trainings, including workshops designed to improve communication and productivity. In one of my two-day workshops, I witnessed first hand the frantic panic and anxiety people would experience as a result of their addiction to technology.

At the start of the class, attendees were instructed to turn off their cell phones and place them out of site. After the gasps calmed down, I assured everyone that the first break was in less than an hour and they could “check in” on their emails, voicemails, texts, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter messages.

During a section of this training, there were videos by several highly respected neurologists citing scientific studies about the current state of addiction to technology and how it causes a surge in our brains similar to the addiction to nicotine. More importantly, they described the damage to our brain and its well being, plus the added stress and inability to engage in healthy relationships.

What is the typical day for most of us as it relates to this addiction? The phone is left on the night stand all night so once it lights up or buzzes, you wake up to immediately respond. At the first moment you are awake, you grab the phone to see what you may have missed and respond before even saying hello to your loved ones. It is carried with you, never leaving your grasp from bathroom to kitchen and beyond. Once at the computer, you are stuck in a frenzy of alarms going off, constantly interrupting whatever you are working on, diminishing your ability to focus and use the best part of your thinking brain – the prefrontal cortex.

Then off to lunch and whether you stand in line to order or sit down with others to eat, everyone has their face buried in their cell phones. No one is talking to each other. And it doesn’t stop there. You arrive home and continue the attention to the phone. If you have children, they are playing electronic games, and dinner is a silent dance of distractions with very little human interchange. The cost according to the experts is isolation… a society no longer connected, selfishly feeding their electronic additions and missing out on life’s purpose.

The solution? Make a choice. Decide who is important to you, and set boundaries. Choose to show others respect by being present and fully engaged. Set aside the electronics during family time, couple time and in one-on-one meeting time. Listen and take part in the conversation by asking questions and genuinely caring about the other person. These skills are not easy to implement at first, yet as you aspire to be a person who controls the use of technology, you will command your time and enhance, even enjoy your relationships.

Ask yourself this question: “How do you want to be remembered by those who know you?” 

Will people say, “great communicator; caring, so sincere; made me feel special and important; always had time to talk; one of the best people I have had in my life!” 

If you passed away today, what would people say about you?

Tips for Success to Overcome the Technology Addiction:
  • Schedule a set time for connecting, using a start and stop alarm. 
  • Communicate to others what times you will be checking in.
  • Be 100% present in your relationships, letting them know why you have decided to put the electronics away while you are with them.
  • Share with others how your life has changed once you took back control and what a difference it has made for you and those you care most about.