Screen Brain

Do you have phone brain? Having a neurological condition means that the health of my brain is a priority to me, and whilst our phones can be extremely entertaining and informative, they can also be highly addictive and very damaging to the health of this vital organ.

Phone addiction is one addiction that seems to be acceptable in our society; our phones take over our lives, some of us share everything that we do online, and it is estimated that young people check their phones up to 150 times day. We often complain that we don’t have enough time to do all that we need to do, but we waste valuable time aimlessly scrolling through social media.

I am as guilty of mindless lurking as anyone, but I made the decision to unfollow pages that were full of posts that attracted keyboard warriors, aggressive trolls and negative energy; instead I follow inspirational pages and people who have a positive effect on me. I am very aware that some people who post endlessly are just seeking validation and approval, but I choose to blog to raise awareness of Parkinson’s and to create a positive space online, I don’t do it for the ‘Likes’ or attention. The purpose of this particular piece is not to judge or mock; but rather to encourage you to think about your relationship with your phone and the impact that it has on your neurological health.

Signs of addiction include constantly ‘checking in’, being unable to do an activity without posting about it and always being absorbed in your newsfeed. Constant phone use means that our brains are overstimulated; leaving us feeling anxious and overwhelmed, we are always alert and are slaves to endless notifications. Non-stop stimulation doesn’t allow the brain respite or rest. Being online constantly isn’t healthy, and the parents and teachers amongst us will agree that many teenagers’ obsession with social media is linked to poor sleep and anxiety, they have Facebook envy looking at the fabulous lives that their ‘friends’ appear to be displaying online, and such a huge amount of time is wasted mindlessly swiping. However, are we adults modelling good use of our own phones? Are we keeping an eye on our own internet time?  Do we want everyone to think that we have a perfect life? Are we teaching our children to share every detail of their lives online? Do we always have our phones sitting next to us or in our back pockets?

When used responsibly, our phones can help our wellbeing; I listen to podcasts on personal development when driving, cleaning, cooking or walking the dog; they are a great way to give my brain new information. Also, social media can be a fantastic platform for raising awareness of important issues, it is a tool of the trade for many businesses, it is a way to stay in touch with friends and family, get news and even get a boost of dopamine laughing at memes. Technology can be extremely useful; but it’s just about setting some boundaries and keeping perspective.

Our brains are constantly evolving and developing, and it is possible to rewire them; just as the brain can create addictions, it can stop them too. Is it time to take charge, carry out a digital detox and take a step back? Weaning yourself off the internet will make you happier and calmer, you will be more present, and you may even find it extremely liberating. We are not designed to be switched on at all times, and if you decide to take a little Sabbatical, you will soon realise that you’re not missing out on all that much after all.  We can’t get away from owning phones, but we can certainly try to improve our relationships with them…

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