Creating Digital Boundaries: Having a Strategy for Managing Technology
“Boundaries are a life enhancing system of “yes” and “no.” They are stop signs and borders you install to protect yourself so that it is clear that you own your life, make good choices, and pursue the authentic expression of who you are in the way you live, love, give and relate.”
~ Better Boundaries: Owning and Treasuring Your Life by J. Black and G. Enns
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Technology is a huge part of our lives. For most of us, we wouldn’t be able to effectively participate in employment or education without it. We may feel entirely lost if we misplace our phones. Technical difficulties are often very disruptive and can be incredibly stressful in many situations. Technology can also fuel creativity and add fulfillment to our personal lives in the way we associate with loved ones, friends and beyond.
Many people are in the habit of checking their phones, emails, and social media accounts several times a day. We have become very dependent on our devices. It is said that 71% of people sleep while holding their smartphone or have it near them while sleeping (National Sleep Foundation, 2020). While technology can be useful, it is important to ensure a balance.
Choosing to be Intentional
It goes without saying that there are both pros and cons to technology. Technology can both help and hinder our productivity. Technology can improve learning, increase efficiency, and enhance communication. Technology can also be a big distraction and time waster. I think we can all relate with being sucked into some form of technology, and as a result, lose track of time. So, why do we need boundaries with technology? And how do we set those boundaries?
Having boundaries in place helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It also helps us to avoid burnout. Just as we set boundaries in other aspects of life, we should also set boundaries with technology.
Take a minute and ask yourself about how you use technology on a daily or even weekly basis. How does technology help you accomplish good things? You might also consider how technology inhibits you. Are there any habits of yours that need changing? What kind of boundaries need to be in place?
You might think about the last time you checked the amount of time spent on various apps on your phone. Most phones give you the option to see the details of your usage. Perhaps you could specifically look at time spent on apps such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, What’sApp or whatever your favorites are.
In order to set boundaries, first recognize what needs to change. Make small changes, and gradually work on forming better habits and increasing awareness. Understand and name why these new changes are important to you. When you’re tempted to justify an old habit, remind yourself why the boundaries you’ve set are important. This will help to keep yourself motivated to continue improving.
It also helps to have a support system along the way. If you do cross a boundary, don’t beat yourself up about it. We all make mistakes! Frame your mistakes as learning opportunities, and commit to getting back on track.
Here are just a few examples of some boundaries you could begin with to maintain that balance with technology…
- Use the “Do not disturb” function while studying or while doing other important tasks
- Take advantage of control settings to set time limits on certain apps
- Avoid “Zoom Fatigue” by planning time between meetings or classes to take a break from screen time
- Accomplish your most important tasks first before allowing yourself to scan social media or other time wasters
- Check email only at certain times each day
- Avoid eating while browsing the internet
- Consider taking breaks from social media when necessary
- Put electronics away at bedtime and while sleeping
The bottom line is to recognize how we spend our time online and make adjustments when necessary in order to ensure a functional balance. Regularly check in with yourself to analyze how you’re doing in keeping those boundaries and decide what needs to change. Be willing to find what works for you! Let’s all commit to using technology to help ourselves instead of allowing it to hinder our progress.
What boundaries do you have in place with technology? What boundaries do you want to establish? We’d love to work with you on finding better ways to manage your technology. See the academic peer coaching website for information on how to make an appointment. Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Until next time...
Black, J., & Enns, G. (1998). Better boundaries: Owning and treasuring your life. New Harbinger Publications.
National Sleep Foundation (2020, October 20). Is Your Smartphone Ruining Your Sleep? Sleep.org. https://www.sleep.org/is-your-smartphone-ruining-your-sleep/
About The Author
Rachel is a senior pursuing her degree in communication here at Weber State University.
Back to Blog