There is a growing trend among psychologists and others that questions what our reliance upon digital devices is doing to our minds. For the first time, the term "Internet use disorder" will make its way into the 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
In Silicon Valley, ground zero for the development of these devices and software, there is growing concern about the role of technology in peoples' lives. Tech guru Soren Gordhamer has gone so far as to organize a conference, Wisdom 2.0, to explore the need for balance in this brave new world of instant gratification digitally. Companies who have become a part of our essential daily lives--Google, Twitter, and Facebook--are offering meditation to their employees, mindful of the way technology has impacted workers and consumers alike.
One media outlet, though, offers a contrarian view that it's not the hardware's fault or the software's fault--it's the employers fault. Alexis Madrigal, writing for TheAtlantic.com, suggests that employers who expect their employees to be available 24/7 are to blame. Likewise, she writes that the U.S. has a political and cultural system that "makes us feel guilty about taking any time off, and obligated to meet the growing demand for nonstop productivity." She cites that Europeans have smart devices too but Americans put in 122 more hours per year, on average, than Brits and nearly 10 weeks more per year than Germans.
Whatever the reason and whoever may be at fault, isn't it time that we re-examine the reliance upon technology and find new, creative ways to dis-engage? Hey, maybe we could even crack open a "real" book from time to time?