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ChatChat - Claudia Cragg

Oct 17, 2019

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Claudia Cragg (@ClaudiaCragg) speaks here with psychologist Dr Doreen Dodgen-Magee (@drdoreendm) about her new book, 'Deviced!'. 

With current statistics suggesting that the average American over the age of 14 engages with screens upwards of 10 hours a day, the topic of our growing dependence upon technology applies to nearly everyone. While the effects differ at each point of development, real changes to the brain, relationships, and personal lives are well documented. Deviced! explores these alterations and offers a realistic look at how we can better use technology and break away from the bad habits we’ve formed.

Dodgen-Magee makes a detail-rich, persuasive case for the need to embrace technology yet also “make some conscious decisions about what place we want technology to hold in our lives.” The dilemma, as she explains it, is that people feel “gratitude for the ways that technology benefits society” but “many are experiencing niggling questions about how a near-constant engagement with devices” affects everyday life.

The concerns range from losing touch with the physical senses and having “no sense of our larger environs” to obesity and social isolation. “Take Action” sidebars throughout the book offer suggestions for modifying behavior, along with strong reasons for doing so. People’s lives are changing irrevocably and unintentionally, Dodgen-Magee points out; increased interaction with one’s device encourages a blinkered perspective as users merely “reflect [their] own little worlds back to [themselves].”

The overall message Dodgen-Magee strongly presents is the necessity of moving toward “intention” regarding one’s use of devices and technology. A five-component assessment tool will help users understand their “tech engagement and impact” and then develop appropriate “delay skills.” Dodgen-Magee leaves readers with a “Ten (RICH) Minutes a Day” exercise, useful in its simplicity, grounded in meditation, and firmly directed toward “emotional well-being.” This educational, encouraging book leaves its audience with a plethora of helpful suggestions. 

Using personal stories, cutting edge research, and anecdotes from youth, parents, and professionals, Dodgen-Magee highlights the brain changes that result from excessive technology use and offers an approach to the digital world that enables more informed and lasting change and a healthier long-term perspective. Given that the reader is living within a culture of ever-changing and advancing technologies, Deviced! offers a mindful approach to assessing current technology use, breaking bad habits, setting new norms, and re-engaging with life with renewed richness and awareness.