11 Dec Technoference: What it is and How to Stop Doing it.
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It’s a tale as old as time: a family is gathered in a kitchen, the living room or in the car. This is a time for chatter, a time for the conversation to flow and for bonds to be strengthened. However, there is no chat. Only pairs of glazed eyes focused on screens all around. This habit has a name: technoference. It’s something we have all done or had done to us. Studies suggest that not only are parents are using technoference in order to disengage with children, they also find it more difficult to engage with a child when they put their screen down.
What is Technoference?
Technoference is a portmanteau of the words “technology” and “interference”. Technoference has many recognisable forms. It could be a meal with family, where the conversation is interrupted every minute by the need to keep up with the football score. Or, maybe someone asks you a question and you fail to answer because you are engrossed in your device. If you are not present in the conversation because of preoccupation with tech, or dropped out of a conversation midway because of something tech-related, you are guilty of technoference.
Why is Technoference a Problem?
Most of us know the feeling of having a conversation halted because someone needs to check their phone. You can lose the thread of what you were saying, or think that the conversation was not important to the person in the first place. All this makes us slip further within ourselves, furthering the loss of interaction that the pandemic has left us with. We should make an effort to be more social than ever before if we are to ameliorate the effects of technoference. These effects, according to research, include lower relationship and life satisfaction than those who use devices less. The bottom line is clear: technoference leads to real world difficulties.
How to Stop
Beyond simply putting your phone down more often, there are plenty of ways you can reduce technoference. Turning off notifications on your device would be good start, as would keeping your phone in your pocket and out of sight. You are less likely to be interrupted by a ringing phone or be tempted to check it if it’s not in your sightline. If there are times when you simply cannot avoid looking at your phone, try and excuse yourself from the conversation first to go to a place where you can take a call ,or check an email. If you engage in technoference, it’s more likely that those around you will too. By making these first steps, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the difference it inspires it not just you, but also the people around you. Give it a go and see what a big difference a small change can make.
For more about how digital habits such as technoference are changing our lives – and how to fix it – pick up a copy of our new book: My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open. Available to order here.