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5 ways technology is actually making life worse – and how to remedy them

Stephanie is a writer specializing in Entertainment and parenting in the 21st century. She is a BlogHer Voice of the Year and a syndicated writer at BlogHer and Redbook Magazine. She also writes at Rhode Island Parent Magazine. Stephanie...

Why technology isn't really making life easier

Everyone's always talking about how simple life has become since technology became such a prominent aspect of our lives. But have you ever thought about the ways it makes our lives harder?

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1. Social media can destroy relationships

Remember that friend from high school you used to spend hours chatting with at the ice-cream shop? Remember how you two snort-laughed about the shorts your gym teacher wore or how that boy you didn’t like kept asking you out? Well, she’s all grown up now, and she’s got problems — problems with her man, problems with her kids and problems with her intestines, among other things. You’re just about ready to unfriend her because of it all. Those pristine memories of her aren't so pristine anymore, are they?

One innocent dinner pic could get you unfollowed by someone with whom you get along really well in real life. Let’s not get started on people who only talk to others online but not in real life — or vice versa. What about the confusing people who only communicate with you via text? Do you call them friends? Acquaintances? I’m not even sure. And let’s talk about romantic relationships for a second, shall we? Is it better or worse for a relationship to allow 500 acquaintances to watch and comment on the goings-on in your home?

One thing I always say is that the Internet makes friends of enemies and enemies of friends — and these dynamics have drama written all over them. When did relating to others become so complicated?

Simple fix: Uninstall social-media apps from your phone. Use them only from tablets or the home computer — for limited periods of time. And then walk away until the next time.

2. Devices can be hard to repair

Over the last several months, I’ve had not one but two new pieces of technology break within 60 days of owning them. When new pieces of tech need repair, you can’t really fix them. The items are “so new” no one can obtain parts quickly, easily or at a low cost. You're left with the lousy decision to trash the piece of equipment altogether for a new device or engage in a lengthy process just to find someone to help, where you may be asked to relinquish the item for several weeks (roughly equivalent to eternity).

When items are upgraded every six months, it's very difficult to get something you own fixed. Why would you, when you're immediately being handed the next upgrade?

Simple fix: Use your devices as long as they're functioning properly. This could force companies to stop rapid-fire upgrades and might encourage them to build better items that last longer and can be fixed. It may just save us aggravation in the long run.

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3. Technology keeps us from actually living

From Instagram and Facebook to Snapchat and YouTube, we have the ability to reach many people. As such, many people can also reach us. We could spend hours on end scrolling, liking and sharing people's posts, then return a few hours later to do it all again. We could be outside on the most beautiful, cloudless 72-degree day, in the most picturesque park on the planet, and what would we be doing? Crouching over our phones and tablets or posting pictures of the park — and never actually enjoying it.

Kids have YouTube channels. High school principals tweet the daily activities. Sure, it’s convenient, and in many cases entertaining, but at what point do we disengage from the megabytes and live? When we are immersed in our devices, it's almost as if we're watching the world pass us by, clinging to the illusion that we're actually part of it.

Simple fix: Lock your phone or tablet, and create a complicated unlock sequence. If four digits is too easy, make it six. If six digits becomes too simple, make it eight. The harder a device is to unlock, the less likely you'll be to reach for it every few minutes.

4. It makes us lazy

From ordering Domino's Pizza from your couch to not having to bring your wallet to Target to using your phone to turn on your TV, technology has made us lazy. There are so many things you can do from your phone — securing rides, balancing checkbooks, ordering groceries and clothing — we literally never have to move to get our business done, which is scary. Aside from using fitness-tracker apps, we have no incentive whatsoever to move around.

Maybe it isn't such a great idea for us to have everything we need at our fingertips, despite how great it all appears. Since this is the reality, though, and I can do so much with so little effort, I'm going to rock this newfound efficiency! In fact, I’m waiting for the app that cleans my house and picks up my kids from activities. I hope it's free!

Simple fix: Balance the convenience with exercise. For every hour spent online, spend an hour outside. Enjoy the time you've saved with family and friends.

5. Technology can be dangerous

From helmet-cam disasters to texting-and-driving injuries to selfie-stick deaths (yes, deaths — think about that), devices can sometimes take a dangerous toll on their users. I’ve seen people texting while crossing the street, while swimming in pools and while riding bikes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not that good on a bike. We are so certain we’ll miss something while we’re occupied with something else we refuse to ever put down our devices. We're so determined to show others what we’re up to we literally risk our lives to do it. There's a time and a place for everything, and posting pictures of your ice-cream cone while crossing a busy street is not one of them.

Simple fix: Put your device into "drive mode" or "Do not disturb." People who text you will receive an alert that you're driving and you'll respond later, and you won't get loud notifications to distract you. You can even put it in drive mode when you're not driving. When you are available again, you can turn off the setting. Or just turn off your devices completely in potentially unsafe situations.

Maybe it would make sense to put down our gadgets (for a little while, at least), give ourselves a few breaks and take stock of what’s important: the people we love and the lives right in front of us. And focus on quality over quantity. There may be fewer pictures and fewer likes, but in return you may get a little more peace and quality time with your loved ones.

More: How to protect yourself from data theft

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