Jane Binnion column

Mobile phone text message.
Mobile phone text message.

What I really like about all the new online communication tools is that it has enabled so much flexibility for home working and has opened up the world for many people that would otherwise be isolated.

People ill at home, or those who struggle in social situations can get great support online.

I remember how isolated I felt when Wee Binnion was born and everyone I knew was out at work. Having a chat on Facebook when I was fed up would have been great.

But of course with the good comes the bad. Many people are feeling that they are a slave to technology and that they are unable to switch off. It can cause stress when your smart-phone is pinging every few seconds. Others are actually getting addicted to checking in online to ensure they’re not missing anything.

Work life balance is all skewwhiff when we feel tempted to regularly check the work inbox on our day off, or even away on holiday. People are complaining to me that they’re getting work emails at 11pm, or on a Sunday. The internet is 24/7, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be online and available.

This is impacting on our real-life relationships too.

I’m sure most of us have been in situations with a group of friends or family and people are checking their phones rather than talking to each other.

We are now starting to recognise that overusing technology leads to stress and tiredness. It’s clear that we become increasingly sluggish the more we’re online and the constant bombardment of information is affecting our sleep.

To get the balance right it’s recommended that we completely unplug from the web every once in a while. Going offline for at least 24 hours can really refresh our brains, and that can be a really good thing for our health generally.

There’s a cartoon going round that says “My phone broke so I had to spend time talking to the family. They seem like nice people”.

If that sounds familiar how about setting a challenge for yourself and your family this bank holiday weekend, by switching off your smart phone and seeing if you like talking to each other. And if you do, you could always share it on Facebook the next day.