Recently, I was walking my dog, Remi, around a lake and park area and noticed a family of four doing the same. As I got closer, I observed they were all looking at their smartphones while walking. I followed them for some time and noticed they never communicated with one another but kept their attention on their screens.

As our culture continues to use mobile devices to communicate, collaborate and consume data, it’s having both positive and negative effects on individuals, families, communities and businesses. In theory, we are more productive in our careers being able to access data from anywhere, thus improving the service we provide to teammates and customers. But without appropriate monitoring and oversight, too much access to too much information can cause distractions. In fact, recent studies detail some of the adverse effects of being “connected” and consumed with technology. As I witnessed, phone use can interfere with building relationships with coworkers, family members, significant others and friends. It can also lead to sleeping problems and misunderstandings. Believe it or not, there is even a term for the anxiety cellphones can cause: nomophobia, the fear of being without a mobile device or out of range for connection.

One organization, SMART (Stand Together and Rethink Technology), addresses the issues technology poses starting with children. The average person checks a smartphone 80 times per day, and as parents, leaders and workers, we need to think about what phone use is healthy. Social media has a profound impact on mental illness, wellness and work-life balance. In the coming days, we’ll need to address these issues both in our families and workplaces. START offers these tips:

  • Start with yourself: Model healthy tech use for your kids.
  • Tables and bedtimes: Create device-free zones. (I would add that a family walk in the park is also a great opportunity to go phone-free!)
  • Accountability: Apply filters, settings and openness. Your child’s digital life — including passwords and time using devices — should be shared with parents at all times.
  • Ride. Practice. Drive: Use a “driver’s ed” approach to tech training. Like driving, tech use comes with great responsibility — give kids the tools and training to navigate risky situations.

Enterprise Mobility Expert Phil Poje, CEO of Tech Orchard

Phil Poje | CEO, Tech Orchard

A serial entrepreneur with more than 30 years of executive leadership and ownership experience, Phil has a unique understanding of the challenges that exist within the rapidly growing technology sector. Contact him directly at phil@techorchard.com to discuss innovative ways for overcoming those challenges and propelling your organization to new levels of success.