Innovation is not always a bed of roses – as our expert writer and founder of Girls in Tech Adriana Gascoigne explains below – how less can be more.
English: iPads can be a distraction to learning
Are You Jealous of My Laptop?: How to Deal With Relationship Trials and Tribulations When it Comes to Overuse of Devices
By Adriana Gascoigne
The advancements of technology and our ability to connect in an instant and share our lives with the rest of the world seems to have left some people very isolated and anti-social. With all of the real-time connection to technology, primary relationships are disconnecting, or worse, not even forming at all. Human attachment influences every aspect of human development: mind, body, emotions, social ability, values and productivity*.
I’m always amazed with the number of people who pull out their smart phones while dining with friends, families centered around video or social gaming as a primary source of entertainment, teens wanting to IM or spend multiple hours social networking or even worse, couples bringing their laptops or iPads to the bedroom ‘needing’ to connect, share and communicate with friends and followers before and after bedtime (talk about a romance-killer) – What is “normal” when it comes to technology usage?
I guess there is no specific guideline when it comes to the amount of time we spend with our devices versus face-to-face time with friends, family and significant others; the thing is that most of us do not think it’s a big deal to use our devices so often. In fact, most people view using devices and spending multiple hours a day on the computer as a part of everyday, 21st century life. The primary issue lies in the time-suck that comes from the abuse of the devices, often taking away precious time we should be spending on building our personal relationships.
Whether you’re texting or IM’ing, social networking, blogging, social gaming or shopping online, a good majority of our day is spent utilizing and getting distracted with some sort of tech gadget, device or activity. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is now the fastest rising mental illness in adults. Based on a research report from John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst*, the underlying factor for internet addiction in adults is directly connected to a fear of intimacy and this fear has its origin in failed primary attachment. The report also reveals that attachment to technologies such as TVs, movies, internet, video games, cell phones iPods, and iPads are resulting in a detachment from all that is human. Human detachment resulting from technology overuse is happening at such a rapid pace, it is difficult to determine what would be the immediate, much less long term effects.*
In an effort to help those who have IAD or those whose relationships are damaged and dying a slow death due to the overuse of devices, I have created a list of suggestions you can follow to help balance your investment in technology in exchange for more real-time, interpersonal communication and romance –
  1. There’s a time and a place – create guidelines that work for you and your loved ones. For instance, no cell phone usage during meal time or no laptop usage in the bedroom or even, no social networking on the weekdays. These rules will help set boundaries for you and your family in an effort to increase the amount of human interaction and engagement, crucial to developing and strengthening relationships with loved ones and peers.
  1. Remember how life was before 1980 – take a trip back into time when we didn’t have cell phones, iPods, iPads, computers, or even the internet. What was it like? People had to be creative and proactive about discovering new and interesting activities to entertain their families and communicate with each other. Meeting at parks, going to amusement parks, having more gatherings at home, going to the movies, etc. How do you ask your girlfriend on a date in this day and age? With a hand-written letter, phone call or with a text message? I bet most of you answered text message. Text messages are so impersonal and lazy. To show that you care and want to make an effort in courting a woman, the more traditional approach is best.
  1. Plan outings to enjoy the outdoors – nature is one of the best forms of entertainment and can facilitate authentic engagement with loved ones. Going on a hike, bike ride, sailing or horse back riding on a nice day is pure euphoria. You will inevitably bond with those individuals around you, engage in exploration, deep conversation and exchange smiles. This human interaction coupled with exercise is good for the soul and helps develop stronger relationships whether it’s with a family member, friend or a date.
  1. Join a club, take on a hobby – as much as “joining a club” or “taking on a hobby” seems like something you would do while in primary school, it is still considered a very important part of a balanced adult life. Partaking in diversified activities and having unique interests creates a channel for open and interesting dialogue, it allows people to interact and bond with others and it enables people to learn and grow – whether it’s a book club, boxing lessons, cooking classes or joining a dance group, these are all activities, which do not involve new technologies or devices.
  1. Leave your laptop at work – try to get into the habit of leaving your work at work. Limit the hours you work per day and the hours you spend answering emails, IMs, or text messages from co-workers. Once your fellow employees realize that you’re a “work-a-holic” and that you are readily available and accessible via your devices at all times, they will feel free to take advantage of this and hound you whenever they feel like it. Set boundaries. Leave your technological devices related to your work at work and if you work virtually or from home, be disciplined and keep a daily work schedule, highlighting specific working hours, which you can realistically honor.
  1. Reignite the romance – the heart of this article originated from the lack of romance in society today. Women (and men to an extent) are not only getting asked out on dates via SMS, they are getting more “I love you” emails and eCards than actually being told “I love you” face-to-face. It’s time to reignite the romance in your relationship; be creative when taking your mate on a date, try to decrease the amount of technology used to communicate with them (i.e. in-person is best) and be present when you are with that person; don’t use your devices, focus on the person, the dialogue and growing the relationship.
  1. Honesty is the best policy – Ensure that you are open and honest about your internet activity with your family members, boyfriend or girlfriend, or spouse. Every year the amount of people with IAD increases, in addition to the number of divorces resulting from Facebook. Analyze your day-to-day usage of technology devices and the number of hours spent on the internet and calculate how much time you are spending with a piece of metal or plastic versus quality time with loved ones. Face-to-face interaction, sharing and engaging are crucial to human happiness and natural development; even though you might get some immediate attention and temporary excitement by setting up your online dating or social networking profile, it will never replace the fulfillment, sensation, and warmth you will obtain from a human relationship.
*Supporting Attachment Websites:
Attachment Early Intervention Program –
Dr. Pat Crittenden’s website –
Kim Barthel’s website –
Centre for Successful Parenting –
*Certification Course on Attachment
Attachment course instructors were occupational therapists Kim Barthel and Irmie Nickel who follow Dr. Pat Crittenden’s Dynamic-Maturational Model of attachment and adaptation.
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Image representing Adriana Gascoigne as depict...

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Adriana is the founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, a non-profit organization, which she launched in February 2007. As a woman in tech, Adriana’s passion lies in bolstering opportunities around the empowerment, engagement and education of women in tech. Previously, Adriana worked as the Vice President of Marketing at SecondMarket, the global marketplace for alternative investments. She was responsible for SecondMarket’s marketing, branding strategy, event production and digital media efforts. Prior to joining SecondMarket, Adriana worked at a variety of technology start-ups spearheading marketing, communications and analytics. She worked at hi5, SocialGamingNetwork (SGN), Jambool’s SocialGold, GUBA as well as Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide as the Vice President of 360 Digital Influence and Edelman as the Vice President of the Digital Group. She is an “Intel Insider,” serving as a brand and product advisor for Intel. She is an advisor to a variety of start-ups including Involver, Numiyo Technologies, Palindrome Advisors, Charity Blossom, DooChoo, and In 2009, Adriana launched SmittenWithMittens, a 501 (c) 3 providing fair trade mittens, clothing, uniforms and resources to orphans in developing countries. Adrianaholds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Economics from the University of California at Davis, received a degree from El Tecnologico de Monterrey in Aguascalientes, Mexico in 2000, and participated in Semester at Sea, University of Pittsburgh in 1997. Adriana is fluent in Spanish and speaks some Japanese and French.

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1 Response » to “Are You Jealous of My Laptop?: How to Deal With Relationship Trials and Tribulations When it Comes to Overuse of Devices”

  1. Thanks for sharing Adriana, guilty of this (and have started leaving my laptop at the workplace – to create a boundary b/w work and life; in analogy to online and offline).

    p.s.: Interesting how you have marked all points as ‘1’.

    Best, Monce

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