New Decade, New You!
With 2019 all wrapped up, we find ourselves looking back on a crazy year in an even crazier decade. If there’s one thing that represents the craziness of the past 10 years, it’s the lightning-fast evolution of our smartphones, and how they’ve become so integral to our daily lives. The devices we had in our pockets in 2010 are a far cry from what we carry today—modern smartphones are bigger, smarter, sleeker, faster and more capable than we could have ever imagined at the start of the decade.
We think what truly defines mobile tech in the 2010s is how central smartphones have become to our daily lives. As Joanna Stern put it in the Wall Street Journal, smartphones “changed what it means to be human. A gadget that altered the way we navigate the world, our relationships, ourselves.” Simply put, our smartphones have not just changed how we communicate, they’ve changed how we work, eat, sleep, date, travel, learn, play, workout and so much more. They’ve ultimately changed how we live!
The evolution of our ever-changing relationship to mobile tech has advanced so rapidly that we, the consumer, never stopped to think about the effect it was having on us. We’ve become so closely tied to our mobile devices that we haven’t really had the chance to take a step back and look at how living in this digital world is affecting our physical, relational and mental health. As we enter a new decade, we think it’s important to evaluate and reassess the endless ways that we use these powerful devices. We want to learn from our mistakes so we can find a more harmonious balance—one that enables us to take control of our digital lives in this decade.
Let’s Get Physical
When it comes to physical fitness, our phone could truly be our best friend, but more often than not it turns out to be our worst enemy. It keeps us idle. It keeps us on the couch. It keeps us glued to the screen. While fitness apps can motivate and inspire us during workouts and physical activities, they don’t do us any good if we never have the chance to even open them because we just spent two hours on YouTube instead of spending an hour sweating it out at the gym. But, in the 2020s, we want to overcome these distractions and hit the ground running—or, biking, jogging, walking, lifting, crossfitting... whatever we can do to stay fit. Even if we’re not necessarily trying to break any records or compete in triathlons, it’ll be a lot easier to stay active if we can use our mobile devices to enhance our workouts, not distract us from them.
Just as mobile devices require us to reassess our approach to physical fitness, we also have to think about how they are tinkering with our mental health. With our phones becoming ever-more ingrained into our every minute thought and action, the way we interact with our phones is changing day by day. So, it’s hard for even the most devoted researchers to understand what phones are doing to our brains when our relationship to them is evolving so rapidly. But it doesn’t take a scientist to realize that they’re clearly affecting how we think. Thankfully, the manner in which our mobile devices impact our mental health is an issue that rose to particular prominence during the second half of the 2010s. Numerous studies have been published over the last few years showing that too much time on our phones is having a negative impact on mental health.
First, let’s start this decade off by embracing the fact that mental health is just as important as physical health, giving as much time and attention to mental wellness as we do to workout gear, fitness plans, gym memberships and diets. Let’s then start to take more agency in our digital lives and not allow what’s happening on our screens to dictate our moods. Channel our inner Marie Kondo and ask yourself what are you doing on your smartphone that brings you joy, and start to eliminate those tasks or apps that don’t fit your answer.
It’s Not You, It’s Your Phone
As phones became more advanced in the 2010s, we were excited about having the ability to stay connected like never before. Considering all of the top mobile apps fall under the “social” category, we should all be more connected and in sync than we were 10 years ago. But, the last decade has taught us that this isn’t always the case. Our phones often distract us from those around us, and can ultimately cause us to be less social. Think about it this way: in 2010, only about 22% of Americans had a social media account, whereas the average American now spends about 3 hours a day on social media apps. Because of this, we end up spending less quality with the people that matter most, even when we’re all in the same room. So it’s therefore no surprise that over the last decade more people reported feeling isolated and depressed, which is particularly true with the younger generation of users who grew up under the constant glare of mobile screens.
Maintaining healthy relationships isn’t just good for our social lives, it’s important for our mental wellness. As psychotherapist Esther Perel puts it, “Mental health is deeply influenced by relational health—ultimately it’s the quality of your relationships that determines the quality of your life.” We should all strive to strike a healthier balance between our physical vs. digital relationships this decade, and use our smartphones as a tool to sustain our relationships instead of distracting us from them.
Modern Mobile Minimalism
Besides our phones getting bigger and bigger in the 2010s, they also became much more addicting. As the line between phone and phablet becomes blurred, it becomes even harder to ignore the noise. With so many of our personal and professional obligations tied to our mobile devices—along with all the streaming and games—our phones can be a constant distraction. It is understandable that so many people are now seeking out smaller, less demanding smartphones and choosing to embrace digital mobile minimalism. This doesn’t just mean wanting smaller phones, it means wanting smarter phones that don’t intrude into our daily lives.
Luckily, there is an increasing amount of minimalist devices that provide all the necessities you’d expect from a modern smartphone, but they don’t monopolize our attention or encourage screen addiction. But, modern mobile minimalism is not just a choice of phone—it also has to be a lifestyle choice. When we deliberately choose to live life outside of our screens, it ends up improving our physical, mental and relational health as we enjoy living more in the moment… not on the screen.
This Decade, Connect With What Matters
With 2020 marking a new year and a new decade, it really is the time to look to the future, to make changes and to embrace healthier digital habits. We can look back at the mobile missteps of the 2010s and kick off the new decade by redefining our relationship to the mobile devices we put into the palm of our hands. By choosing smarter (and smaller) devices and using them more deliberately, we can regain control of our digital world to improve our physical, mental and relational health.
We want to continue to explore how we can improve our relationship to the digital world by creating devices that encourage us to make the right choices. Let’s use this new decade to reevaluate what truly matters in our own lives. Tell us: what are your goals for this new decade?