Our Impulsivity When It Comes to Tech

Stop. Wait. Then do the right thing.

I am texting and there is no answer. Why does it take them so long to respond? I stare at my phone waiting for that answer that takes forever to arrive. I check it again. 7 minutes later I hear that beep. Phew, what a relief.

Wait, this is not the right beep! It’s another LIKE on Instagram. I got 87 likes, my friend got 213. Does it mean no one likes me anymore? Side track, focus!

A few more minutes that feels like forever pass, and finally an answer. I read and immediately answer.

The morning after I open that same conversation to add another comment, realizing I should have said something else. I should have waited 5 minutes before responding my answer.

Stop and think is the key here. I’m no longer 16 or even 20 years old, and even I impulsively answer.

Some background

The part of our brain that is in charge of our “executive function”, and in my case the impulsivity, is called the frontal lobes.

The frontal lobes are considered our emotional control center and home to our personality. They are involved in planning, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, social and sexual behavior, and of course impulse control.

The frontal lobes may not be fully developed until halfway through the third decade of our lives.

So if I got the message and with my frontal lobes all developed I still didn’t think, imagine the 15 year old that gets that inappropriate image of a friend and passes it along to everyone instead of deleting it from the phone…

Laziness of thinking

I recently came across the phrase “laziness of thinking”.

Jordan Grafman, chief of cognitive neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines it as “technology is capturing kids at an ever earlier age, when they are not generally able to step back and decide what’s appropriate or necessary, or how much is too much.” Adding to that, “A lot of what is appealing about all these types of instant communications is that they are fast,” he said. “Fast is not equated with deliberation. So I think they can produce a tendency toward shallow thinking. It’s not going to turn off the brain to thinking deeply and thoughtfully about things, but it is going to make that a little bit more difficult to do.”

Wow, that’s troubling. Do we want our kids not to be able to make the right decision when time comes? I don’t think so.

What can we do?

I made a rule for myself. I call it the 4 minutes’ rule. Before responding to any text message, email, snapchat message, etc. I wait 4 minutes, if my response remained the same, I hit send. If not, well… my frontal lobes just did their job!

That brings me to my last comment.

I recently spoke in front of a group of parents that were raising concerns with the latest episode in one of the schools. Kids were sharing naked pictures of each other. Given that lines were crossed, the police got involved. It got me thinking, we need to speak with our kids on all channels, at schools, at home, grandparents, friends, counselors and make sure the message stays the same: stop, think, and do the right thing before it is too late.

Stop before you send that image.

Think. Should I delete it? Probably yes!

Do the right thing. Share with a trusted adult, they will know what to do.

Tali Orad, Founder & CEO of Screen / Founder of B.E.CPR, Inc
Entrepreneur and engineer, but most importantly, a mom to a son and two daughters, little angels that were spending way too much time on their electronic devices. That’s what inspired Tali to create Screen and reconnect with her family.