3 May 2018

Lawrence Jones MBE, CEO UKFast - life lessons, habits

Taking some time out from my smartphone screen…

Would you use a business’s products when the owners themselves didn’t use them?

I would guess that many of us do without even realising. In 2010 Apple boss Steve Jobs described the iPad as an ‘incredible experience’. He sang its praises as one of the greatest browsing experiences. Yet, in an interview shortly after, when a journalist asked if his children loved the iPad, he responded to say that they don’t use it. The Jobs family limits the children’s use of technology.

Equally, a school near Silicon Valley, attended by many of the children of some of the top tech firms’ execs, limits the amount of screen time its pupils have – not introducing screens until a certain age.

If the makers of these devices are not using the devices themselves and limiting their families’ use of it, that is surely a red flag for the rest of us?

Stepping away from the screen

These points were raised in a TED Talk by psychologist Adam Alter. Notably during his talk he references ‘stopping cues’ in our use of smartphones and social media. These are things that nudge you to let you know that it’s time to move onto something new: the end of the newspaper, the end of a TV programme. Instead, we’re driven by constantly refreshing, scrolling feeds, and interfaces that mimic fruit machines to give us the thrill of wondering what’s next.

These apps are effectively manipulating us into spending more and more time on them. Yet, those surveyed and referenced in Alter’s talk said that the apps that mimic this behaviour – news and social media apps – are the ones that make them unhappy.

Former Facebook President Sean Parker openly discussed how they are effectively hacking human nature to ensure that people continue to use the service and drive revenue for the firm.

We’re no longer bored. We don’t let our minds wander. I believe that we’re less creative because of it. Don’t you find that you have your best ideas when you’re bored, when your mind wanders? Shower thoughts are often our most creative. These are the times when we’re not actively thinking about anything. We’re free to let our minds wander.

As a creative soul, the thought of losing our creativity is horrifying. That’s why we have no phone zones in our house. It’s why I try to move away from screens and spend time doodling, walking in the mountains or in the gym.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does it concern you that we’re spending too much time in front of screens?

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