Do Humans Have Healthy Relationships with Technology? An Alumna Offers Some Insights
Technology shapes our lives. We spend our days in front of screens of all shapes and sizes. Our homes and families are taken care of by Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and a variety of AI-endowed devices. Technology seems impossible to avoid. It’s the way of the world. It’s the way we do business, socialize, find entertainment.
But is all of this healthy?
You might think the answer is an obvious no, but it’s not. Courtney Ackerman (MA, Psychology, 2015) says our relationships with technology can be healthy. It just depends on our approach.
In a new interview with Authority Magazine, Ackerman, who is the author of five books and works in mental health research and evaluation for the state of California, lays out some helpful tips for having a positive experience (especially with one of technology’s most ubiquitous manifestations, social media).
Is too much technology a bad thing?
“There’s … evidence to suggest that all this screen time is changing how we see ourselves and others — and probably not in positive ways,” Ackerman said in the interview.
She’s less convinced by the familiar argument that platforms like Facebook or TikTok create a sense of community.
“Social media can be used to connect us with others,” she said, “but it’s often used to do the exact opposite, especially when we use it to mindlessly scroll instead of talking to our loved ones, peruse altered images that shift our perception of reality, and read a constant stream of negative or alarmist headlines and captions.”
Intention-setting and Other Tips
Ackerman’s insights focus on the simple act of increasing one’s awareness when using technology. In the case of social media, too often we mindlessly turn to our social media feeds and let the algorithms take us down any number of bottomless rabbit holes. Her goal is to help us reassert our control.
Among her tips she recommends setting up boundaries around your usage of social media. Set a limited amount of time to view each app. The most important part of her suggestion are the final three words: Stick to it. Boundary-setting is meaningless if you ignore it.
She also suggests setting intentions before looking at your phone or opening an app. “Before navigating to a social media app,” she said, “identify your reason for using it, set a goal, and stop once you’ve achieved it.” (You’ll have to read the article to learn her other tips.)
Sounds simple, right? Try this for yourself. Habits can be very challenging to break.
Home of Positive Psychology
For 20 years, CGU served as the home base for one of the pioneering founders of positive psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (until his death in 2021).
Today his legacy lives on in a leading positive psychology program that he developed with Professor Stewart Donaldson and through a team of psychology faculty that includes Jeanne Nakamura, a colleague of Csikszentmihalyi’s who directs the Quality of Life Research Center at CGU.
During her master’s program at CGU, Ackerman focused on positive organizational psychology and evaluation. She collaborated with Donaldson on scholarly publications and has launched a successful career as the author of several books providing tips to help us in our busy lives that are firmly rooted in what she learned at CGU.
Ackerman’s most recent book is The Social Media Detox Tracker, which was published this month by Simon & Schuster.
- Learn more about CGU’s degree programs in Psychology