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'We are losing the skills to interact as humans,' tech addiction psychologist says

Addiction to social media & technology is creating depression, anxiety and fear of missing out. Solutions: Intentional media time, 'boredom parties' & family phones

PORTLAND, Oregon — Portland psychologist Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee specializes in technology and social media addiction, and she says unfortunately her client list has blown up in recent years. 

The medical definition: Any more than 30 minutes of social media a day could be considered an addiction.

This conversation was FASCINATING, and extremely helpful for parents or anyone in today's working world, where being online and building a brand is required.

Here are some takeaways:

  • The constant task-switching on your phone isn't as efficient as you think it is
  • Going cold turkey isn't realistic. Small changes help
  • Practice being a real, human, person in the world, interacting with live beings
  • Use tech and media with intention. No absent scrolling
  • Do not shame the younger generation for a problem you helped create

And another takeaway she recommends: Throw a "boredom party."

"I'm always trying to encourage families to have boredom parties and I feel like I can make the world a better place if I could host a big boredom party," Dodgen-Magee said. "The only requirement is that nothing can be planned ahead. And so people come together and they don't have their devices with them and they have to figure out, what could we be resourceful with? What weird, useless skill do you have that you can teach me, and what can I teach you? Or can we listen to a song together?

"Have an Etch-A-Sketch and Koosh balls and blocks and just notice where people start putting their phones down and playing with things."

She said these experiences provide opportunities for tolerating awkwardness and boredom. And they can help develop some grit and resilience, which are on the decline for members of the younger generations who are increasingly using technology to occupy all of their time.  

Dr. Dodgen-Magee has written about this for Time Magazine, the Washington Post and The New York Times. She is based in Portland.

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