How to Make Your Phone Into an Ally, Not an Enemy

Technology doesn’t have to be an isolating force

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I suspect that the value we get from technology similarly depends on how we challenge it and let it challenge us.

In the years since that project, I have experimented with many other ways of bringing what psychologists know about emotion, communication, and health into the technologies people use throughout the day. I have also watched the ways individuals use popular products, such as ride-sharing, messaging, gaming, and augmented reality, often in unexpected ways. Some used smart lights, intended for efficiency, to signal to their partner when they were upset; others used augmented reality not for gaming but to cope with social anxiety and to help plan complex medical treatment. The lesson I first learned from Chandra — that benefit often comes as people break or expand the rules to depart from the intended usage — has played out repeatedly. I have seen that our relationship to technology and the benefits we reap from it depend on how much we make it our own.

Excerpted from Left to Our Own Devices: Outsmarting Smart Technology to Reclaim Our Relationships, Health, and Focus, by Margaret Morris, with a foreword by Sherry Turkle, published by the MIT Press. All rights reserved.

Margaret Morris is a psychologist, technology researcher and author of Left to Our Own Devices.

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