That's not just my opinion. It's what a growing mountain of studies has found. "All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness," Jean Twenge, a psychologist and leading expert on the subject, has said, summing up decades' worth of research.
So how do you keep the many good aspects of connected life while losing the stress-boosting, joy-killing ones? I've heard a lot of advice on this subject, but none of as good and as comprehensive as that contained in a blog post by author Susannah Conway.
A former journalist burnt out by the endlessly accelerating news treadmill, Conway developed a set of rules to manage her relationship with her phone and other devices. In the post, she shares her program for anyone else looking to forge a healthier relationship with their gadgets. It might sound radical to some, but to my ears it's just the sort of tough medicine out gadget-addicted society needs. Here are Conway's rules in brief:
1. Turn off ALL notifications from ALL non-essential apps.
"No news, no Facebook, no Instagram, no OKCupid, no nothing. The only notifications I see on my home screen are text messages from friends and family who have my actual phone number," writes Conway.
2. Keep your phone on silent at all times.
Unless your work is incredibly time sensitive (sorry emergency room physicians and high frequency traders), you can, in fact, do this. "I often miss calls but I don't mind that -- I'm happy to call back at a better time," reports Conway.
3. The same goes for your computer.
"If I receive an email I will only know this when I open my email program," notes Conway. What a radical idea.
4. Don't charge your phone in the bedroom.
Because then you will use it as an alarm clock, and then it will be the first thing you see in the morning. Just buy an actual alarm clock. They're still available (really!) and cheap.
5. Switch your phone to airplane mode before bed.
Conway's connection goes dark at 9pm every night. "That way I'm not tempted to use my phone in the evening (better for the pre-sleep wind down) AND I don't see any messages when I pick up my phone in the morning. It's heaven, I tell you! I can meditate and do all the morning rituals I love, have breakfast and then turn off airplane mode when I'm ready to begin my day," she enthuses.
Think you might benefit from instituting Conway's rules? Check out her complete post for lots more detail.
What rules do you have to ensure you maintain a healthy relationship with your gadgets?