(this content was originally posted in LinkedIn)

Last week I attended the inaugural Mindfulness in American summit in NYC. Amongst several high profile speakers (Arianna Huffington, Anderson Cooper, Jewel, Eileen Fisher), Tony Fadell’s session on technology particularly hit home.

Tony is known as “one of the fathers of the iPod” and founded Nest Labs. Nest was acquired by Google where he then led the Google Glass division.  He also attended University of Michigan around the same time as I did – Go Blue!

I used to be a bit too immersed in my screens. So much so that I started repeatedly choking while triple-tasking with them during lunchtimes. That spurred me to become highly mindful of my consumption of tech, media and food. I wrote a book about it called Mind to Mouth, coming out in Nov.

Below are my notes from Tony’s interview with Anderson Cooper. I hope you find them thought provoking.

  • Remember that corporations are the customers of Facebook, et al, not us
    • We need to be aware of what we are letting into our lives and if it is really working for us.
    • Pay attention – don’t let the virtual goods economy control us.
    • The fake news and stories all over the internet is like a “digital WW3” – companies/entities are trying to shift the world in their interest.
  • The addictive quality of some apps are built into the design
    • Scrolling makes it more likely for us to stay engaged – we do not read as long if we have to click through for updates.
    • The “pull to update” is just like a slot machine – we pull to get lucky and get a dopamine hit from some “likes” “comments” or messages.
  • We have zero data about our digital habits. Companies have the data. Advertisers have the data
    • We are the product of our environment. Do we understand how much time we are spending digitally?
    • We should be able to understand how much data we consume, with tools to understand the analytics around our digital habits built into all device operating systems.
    • If companies really “loved” their customer they would love their health and support self-regulation.
  • Kids are impacted
    • Kids are taking 200 selfies to find the perfect 1 to post.
    • Group pics are used to be exclusionary with the kids not tagged (tags are limited to 8 in some apps) or not in the pics clearly being left out.
    • There are kids sent to “digital detox camp” for 6-9 months!
  • So what can we do?
    • We can choose to be in the moment
      • At a recent concert in Paris with a couple thousand people only a few phones were held up for pics/videos. In LA it would be a sea of screens
    • We can consciously detach and limit consumption
      • He has “Tech Free Sundays” for kids and adults in his household
    • We can demand tools to analytically understand our digital habits

What is your relationship with your screens? Are there any approaches that work for you?