An award-winning medical doctor, researcher, and expert on human motivation and neuroscience, Dr. Shimi Kang is challenging us all to go on a tech diet in 2019.
Speaking to BBC, Dr. Kang said “Technology is increasingly being linked to anxiety, depression, body image disturbance, and internet addiction disorder has now become a medical diagnosis.” This is why she says, just as we do with food, we need to moderate our intake of it.
From the article:
Kang says our brain “metabolises” technology by generally releasing six different types of neurochemicals into our bodies:
- Serotonin – Released when we are creative, connected, and contributing.
- Endorphins – The “painkiller” of the body. Released when we experience mindfulness, meditation, gratitude, and cardiovascular exercise.
- Oxytocin – Released when we have exchanges in a meaningful connection. It is generally healthy but online predators can tap into its effects to abuse their victim’s trust.
- Dopamine – A pleasure neurochemical linked with instant reward but also addiction. Technology is increasingly being designed to specifically trigger the release of dopamine.
- Adrenaline – Best known for regulating our responses in fight-or-flight situations, but also released by likes and pokes on social media.
- Cortisol – The hallmark of stressed-out, sleep-deprived, too-busy and distracted individuals.
So not all technology is the same, but more importantly, not all experience with technology is.
Dr. Kang suggests we spend more time with healthy technology, such as meditation apps and creative apps, that gives us healthy doses of brain boosting serotonin, endorphin, and/or oxytocin, while really limiting toxic or junk tech that she equates to emotional eating. This includes social media.
From the article:
Any healthy tech diet would stay away from the toxic stuff, says Kang. But a little naughtiness in moderation might be possible.
We are all advised to avoid processed food and sugary drinks, but it’s generally OK to have pizza and popcorn with your children on a Friday night.
Similarly, it is probably okay to “snack” on mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram account or playing a video game.
However, if you are diabetic or prone to diabetes, your medical recommendation concerning sugar will be much stricter than that prescribed for the general population.
It is the same with technology, says Kang.
“If you are an individual with a family history of addiction, anxiety, depression, or time-management issues, for example, then you have to be careful, because you are at a higher risk of converting them to the toxic addiction.”
Teenagers in particularly are more vulnerable and there is enough research to identity those who are more prone to getting in trouble online, she says.
While most of us can’t imagine living without it, a “tech diet” or “digital detox” can help us gain perspective on our tech habits, ensuring that we are engaging in healthy tech behaviour that doesn’t come at the expense of something more important — whether it’s as basic as a good night’s sleep or as important as prioritizing our mental health. So, will you be going on a tech diet in 2019?
Dr. Shimi Kang is an award-winning medical doctor, researcher, and expert on human motivation and neuroscience. With over fifteen years of clinical experience and extensive research in the science that lies behind motivation and wellness, Dr. Kang shows people how to cultivate key 21st century skills — such as communication, collaboration, creativity, and more — to flourish both professionally and personally.
Interested in learning more about Dr. Kang and what she can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].