Full text of psychotherapist Patrik Wincent’s talk: What You Are Missing While Being A Digital Zombie at TEDxStockholm conference. In this talk, Patrik takes us on a journey through his own Internet addiction, and gives us valuable tips to avoid becoming digital zombies.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: What you are missing while being a digital zombie by Patrik Wincent
Patrik Wincent – Psychotherapist
So before I start, I would like everybody to take out their phones. Pick it up and then give it to the person on the left or the right. It doesn’t matter which one as long as you don’t have your own phone on you.
And don’t worry, you’re all going to get your phones back. So don’t worry about it. OK.
So now put your phones back into your pockets. And take a deep breath…
Welcome to the Old World.
So this is me being an Indian. I grew up in the south of Sweden and I loved playing cowboys and Indians. I thought it was great fun.
And I lived where there was a lot of nature; used to ride bikes and skateboard. And this goes out to the younger generation. We hardly had any technology at all. We had one TV and two channels. And we had a phone stuck on the wall. And sometimes when it rang, we didn’t even answer the phone.
And I know is shocking, but it is true.
And then computers came into my life, such as Atari and Commodore 64. And I was blown away. And the old world, as I knew it, was gone.
And this is my son. And yes, I must admit that I am, too, guilty of letting him play video games in their early age. And I thought it was both convenient as well. It was great fun.
And looking back into my younger adulthood, I could see that I often escaped into the virtual world. Back then, I had my son only on the weekends. And every time we went outside, I always had one eye on my phone and the other one trying to interact with my son.
And we did spend time together: Playing video games, most of the time.
And he could come up to me sometimes to say, can we go outside and play? And I said, yes, but not now, because I needed maybe to level up on some game or I needed to work.
So I created this perfect electronic babysitter by just placing him in front of a computer and my problems were solved.
So actually, we have to take a look about the things that we see as a problem. And four things.
So what do you think about a baby who have yet not learned how to speak, but knows easily how to incorporate an iPad?
Studies shown by Hilda Kabali shows that 30% of children under the age of two knows easily how to use an iPad but haven’t yet learned how to speak. And also, the age between 0 to 2, the brain doubles in size and continues to grow until they become 25 years.
So early brain development is dependent on which environment and which surroundings we’re in.
And also, studies have shown that three, four year olds easily knows how to control an iPad having rhetorical difficulties by grasping objects such as blocks, pen and a paper.
So what is a mobile zombie?
Well, actually, we see them every day. They are the ones that is looking at their phones; you know, in front of them walking and bumping into each other’s, bumping into trees, bumping into walls.
My son and I, you know, we spend a lot of times together and he really loved playing table tennis. I remember this one time he entered this huge tournament. And I was sitting at the bench cheering, supposedly. But I was pretty much just staring down at my phone.
And he did really good at this tournament. He actually came to the finals. And he was about to meet this very tough opponent. And he started playing and the score was even and he had two points to win.
And I felt a vibration in my pocket and I had to take up my phone to see what was happening. And something new had happened on Facebook. And I really needed to check it out.
And I hear the crowd is sharing. And I looked up from my phone to see what was happening. And it was as if everything was in slow motion. Everybody’s surrounding my son to congratulate him because he had just won the whole tournament.
But what I sadly see is that he’s looking at me with these sad eyes, knowing that I missed watching him win the last ball that made him the champion of this tournament. Just because I was too busy looking down at my phone all the time.
And I could really feel his pain of me not being present in this very moment. And for the whole day, it did not even want to speak to me again.
So a mobile zombie, I’m going to show you some pictures from before and after you become a mobile zombie. You are ready?
OK, so this is a picture before a mother interacting with her baby. And this is a picture how it could look more today.
A father outside playing with his kid. Or maybe playing, but maybe more on his phone.
How about this, a mother reading to her baby? Or a baby may be left alone with an iPad.
How about this? A romantic couple in love looking into each other’s eyes. And maybe not so in love looking down at the phones, instead.
How about this, a family connected. Playing board games. Or, yeah, connected but maybe more through the wireless network.
So how was that for you? So just let that sink in. And we will continue.
So mobile, the new cigarette, it has become a new type of distraction and in certain areas also be called the new cigarette, because we have it in our pockets. And every time we feel we’re bored or frustrated, when we feel some tension, we have a tendency to always wanting to pick it up because it gives us rewards and pleasure which is called dopamine; the same kind of effect as it does with cigarettes.
So modern technology has become the new type of distraction. We as humans are now starting to react like cats. You know, when a cat, when they hear a sound or, you know, they see a vibration, they are twitching their bodies like that. We humans are also starting to twitch our bodies when we hear an SMS or an e-mail sound. When we feel a vibration we are twitching.
So what happens to our bodies is that we are releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which is the same as stress hormones. And if we get too much stress hormones, longer periods of time, it can become chronic. So I’m not getting into that so much, but I’m just going to say that it’s not good.
So how much should we allow our children to engage with technology?
And when do we as parents say enough, you know, when do we draw the line? Because many of us is confused, because there are giving iPads and laptops to kindergartens and pre-school. Does that mean it’s okay?
I mean, it’s a good thought. In many cases, there are good applications and good video games that actually stimulates their development in a positive way, of course. But in many cases, it is not so.
Instead, we are seeing them staring straight down on a tablet, watching the latest Disney film or playing a video game. And no one can blame a parent for wanting to take the shortcut. I know for a fact I’ve done it for years. I know how effective it can be. I was blaming work. I had a company to run. So I didn’t have any regular hours.