October 18, 2019

Credit: Andriy Onufriyenko / Getty Images

Many adults and teens are spending longer and longer hours engaged with digital media, and researchers are only beginning to grasp the impact on mental health and well-being.

Doreen Dodgen-Magee, a psychologist and the author of “Deviced! Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World,” discusses how screens are profoundly altering who we are and how we behave. She points to concerns about increased feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and a reduced ability to tolerate boredom and to concentrate, but Dodgen-Magee says there are methods to help us all use technology in healthier ways.

Three Takeaways:

  • Dodgen-Magee suggests that, because of constant digital stimulation from our screens, we run the risk of short-circuiting the parts of our brains that are important for focus, concentration, delayed gratification and tolerating unease. Neuroplasticity plays a role in the potential for our brains to be rewired. 
  • Our ability for deep critical thinking is diminished when we turn to our devices for quick and easy answers instead of wrestling with problems by ourselves, according to Dodgen-Magee. 
  • Dodgen-Magee’s dream is to invite the “entire world to a big, huge, boredom-awkward party.”  She argues that we would all be much calmer and more connected to ourselves and others if we could embrace being bored, inconvenienced and uncomfortable. These skills are necessary for anyone who hopes to moderate their tech use, says Dodgen-Magee.

More Reading:

  • Find out more about the latest research on the effects of social media on adolescents - and especially the burden on teenage girls and their mental health.
  • Is there a new reversed digital divide? “The rich have grown afraid of screens,” according to this article by The New York Times, and in Silicon Valley a screen-free elementary education is all the rage with the wealthy.
  • Dodgen-Magee writes about public health concerns caused by tech addiction and overuse in The Washington Post.

technology, attention span, doreen dodgen-magee, focus, boredom, psychology

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