How do we stay responsible in a time of tech addiction?

These days, it’s all too easy to get sucked into technology. You only need look at a young relative to see how quickly the world has gone digital. So, when we develop more technology to throw in the mix – we need to approach it in the right way.

According to a scientific journal, and other research, it’s estimated that 6 – 8% of the population suffer with Internet Addiction Disorder. Broadly speaking, that’s when computer use (regardless of device) interferes with daily life. It’s widely regarded by mental health counsellors and doctors as a truly debilitating disorder – seeing people compulsively checking their phones, addicted to shopping, seeking online validation, afraid of missing out. It’s also regularly linked with mental health problems, like depression.

It could also be argued that the 6-8% estimate is indicative of the extreme cases only, and there may be many more people on the fringe of that addiction. Possibly even you or I. So, it’s a concept that all technology developers need to consider with some responsibility.

Think of yourself as a consumer

Consider yourself as a consumer for a moment. There’s likely to be many brands vying for your attention at any one time – offering you discounts, reminding you of something in your basket, recommending something you might like. On top of that, you’ll be hit regularly with social media updates – someone liked a photo, shared an update, forwarded you a video. And that’s not to mention the actual important life updates you may really need – like your bank balance is low, or your sister has just gone into hospital.

In this time of digital noise, we need to question how we’re adding to the melee – and if so, for what purpose. As a tech company, trying to achieve higher usage rates isn’t a justification, your purpose must go much deeper.

Some questions to ask of your technology

These days we all love stats. You’ve been working out? Great, tell me your heart rate. Your picture was popular? OK, tell me how many likes you got. You do workplace technology? Right, give me your daily log-ins.

The thing is, when it comes to workplace tech, we can’t get hung up on high usage. I’ve got golf clubs in the cupboard I use once every few months – does that make them worthless? No, it just means I’m not in the habit of using them daily. And that’s OK because I have to work, maintain relationships, look after my health, do a hundred more important things. Workplace tech is the same. We need to judge it based on the usefulness at the time, not the regularity of use.

If you’re pushing for daily usage, then you might be getting things wrong. Here’s some questions to ask about your technology:

  1. How often are users genuinely likely to need your technology?
  2. Are you pushing for higher usage than you actually need?
  3. Why are you contacting your users?
  4. Why are you drawing them back to your platform?

We all need to consider the underlying behaviour we are supporting with our tech. In a learning environment, that means giving users the information when they need it and contacting them only when it is helpful. Losing sight of that could lead to a slippery slope.

There are certain activities you may consider daily, or maybe even hourly - task lists, food diaries, step counters. But for the majority of the tech we have, we don’t really need to check it that often. In order to give people a chance to manage their own tech usage, we need to consciously steer clear of causing tech addiction.

Kevin Ashley, Managing Director of myAko, has experienced the slippery slope himself, “I’ve been in technology for a long time, being part of the company that launched the world’s first digital mobile network. I’ve always seen technology as an enabler. But I have also found myself answering emails at 3am, glued to my phone when I shouldn’t be.” Kevin knows the importance of a responsible approach, “Producing software for thousands of employees – I’m committed to delivering only positive experiences. We won’t bombard people with notifications and what we do deliver is only to provide help and support.”

Making people’s lives better

At myAko we set out on day one to make people’s lives better and that’s genuinely what drives us. Our decisions around tech is with the end user at heart, not our stats. We don’t use a raft of notifications, but keep people informed about the important things. That’s why we also created tools to monitor employee feedback, and support better business communication. It’s all to enable the end-user, and it turn to enable you.

Sadly, not every company approaches tech this way. But perhaps we’re learning new boundaries in the digital world that now consumes us. Either way, you have our promise – that your users will always come first.

Want to know more? Speak to us about how our tech can support your employees.

Get in touch on 01202 80600 or hello@myako.com .

Written by Simon Andrew, Consultant and Director at Me[plural], on behalf of myAko.

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