A recent report in The Guardian highlighted the link between the use of social media by children and the increasing numbers suffering from sleep problems. Clearly the increased use of mobile devices by young people is starting to have wider health implications. Putting the discussion about responsible parenting aside, it does raise wider health issues relating to how our own use of smartphones, tablets and even smart watches impact on how we function in the business world.
The flood of information we now receive and transmit each and every hour is relentless. With smartphones we are never out of reach and can respond to emails and participate in conference video calls on WhatsApp or Skype at any hour of the day and in any location.
The barriers to our connectivity as business operators have been wiped out. Recent years have added to this an increasingly diverse range of social media feeds, notifications and distractions, all looking to demand our immediate attention and influence our choices. While social media is clearly a powerful business tool as a broadcaster, as a receiver it can also be the consuming king of time ill spent. The Huffington Post reported that young people who use electronic devices tend to experience greater levels of depression and worse moods. And smartphones seem to be particularly problematic for relationships, leading to social interactions that are lower quality and less empathic.
There are plenty of influencers and bloggers out there with advice on how to manage screen addiction. But for me, one of the unsung dangers is that with our nose in social media feeds, we lose the space and opportunity to think creatively. Being fed a constant stream of other people’s consciousness, opinions and views shouldn’t mean that we do not allow ourselves the freedom to have our own.
We need space to encourage and nurture our own ideas and imagination. Think about it, when do you have your best ideas? In the shower? Out walking the dog? Out cycling? It will probably be somewhere where you can’t hold a smartphone.
So, do yourself a favour and put away the notifications from time to time, ditch the phone for a few hours and get creative. It’s liberating. The world will still be there when you get back.
Mike Conway is a director at Camargue.