Tips & Facts

Is America Facing a Digital Dementia Epidemic?

It’s been happening everywhere, and it’s absurd.

At every social function. Everywhere. People are glued to their phones. Caressing their magic screens, like a young tabby with a catnip addiction. Is social media really that remarkable? Or is FOMO (fear of missing out) causing the addiction? Whatever the cause, this captivating digital euphoria may be causing digital dementia.

German neuroscientist, Manfred Spitzer, coined the term, digital dementia, in his 2012 book by the same name. The term does not mean to make light of diseases commonly associated with the word dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease and other similar conditions with symptoms of confusion, disorientation and impaired memory. Digital dementia is all too real and causes similar symptoms.

What Do We Mean By “Digital Dementia?”

The term, digital dementia, describes how overusing digital technology is resulting in the deterioration of cognitive abilities in a manner more commonly seen in patients who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness. The idea is explored in numerous studies, articles and books around the world.

The consensus among scientists seems to be that our brains follow a sort of “use-it-or-lose-it” policy, which can be dangerous in an age where we outsource our memory to electronic devices and/or search engines rather than our own memory.

Compulsive Internet Use has been identified as a mental health issue in countries around the world, including the United States. It is a particularly acute problem in South Korea. According to a New York Times article, ninety percent of homes in South Korea connect to cheap, high-speed broadband. Social life for the young revolves around dim internet parlors which are on practically every street corner.

But South Korea is doing a great deal to rectify the problem, including government-funded programs like an internet detox boot camp to treat the worst cases. In the U.S., an estimated nine million people may be at risk for the disorder. Only a handful of clinics do anything to treat the problem.

According to a national Kaiser Family Foundation study, kids in the U.S. between the ages of eight and 18, spend more than seven-and-a-half hours a day with technology. As a result of media multitasking (texting, phone calls, listening to music and surfing the web), they actually cram 11 hours of media content into those seven-and-a-half hours.

This level of technology absorption is concerning, and the effects it produces are not limited to digital dementia and cognitive decline but also an intense feeling of loneliness.

How Modern Technologies Inflame Loneliness

A cartoon woman crying with a speech bubble reading "Jeff ended his text with a period! My life is over!"

Sherry Turkle is a clinical psychologist and the founder of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self. She is a sort of anthropologist, studying humanity’s interactions with computers. In her book, “Alone Together,” Turkle reflects on her observations of people/computer interaction since the ’80s. (An NPR interview with the author can be found here: ‘Alone Together’.)

The advantages of modern smart phones and constant connection to social media are obvious. We have more control over conversations. It’s easy to ignore a call from someone you don’t like or end a texting conversation whenever you like. Online, you can be anyone you desire to. No one is as interesting and or as constantly happy as they are on their Facebook profile. Online games, like “World of Warcraft,” allow people to be who they would rather be—the old appear young, the weak strong, the unattractive beautiful, etc.

However, Turkle believes that the perceived weaknesses of “normal” conversations are actually strengths, beneficial and essential to human development. In her book, she says “…being alone can start to seem like a precondition for being together, because it is easier to communicate if you can focus, without interruption, on your screen.”

But being constantly plugged in is isolating people from reality and creating loneliness, and Turkle says having face-to-face interaction teaches “skills of negotiation, of reading each other’s emotion, of having to face the complexity of confrontation, dealing with complex emotion.”

According to a Foundation for Economic Education article, technology gives people a compelling reason not to talk to one another. Our brains are wired to pay attention to distraction. Modern technology makes that easy. We can survive without talking to anyone. People work from their homes, order groceries and talk to friends without any real physical interaction. But what seems harmless and convenient in the present moment can, in the long term, disintegrate the web of community people need for a healthy lifestyle.

People easily get stuck in situations where online interaction only occurs with similar-minded people, creating an echo chamber. Loneliness at this level leads to seriously risky behaviors.

The Rebounding Effect of Echo Chambers

Living in the digital age has given rise to an “Age of Loneliness” according to author George Monbiot, and it’s easy to see.

Results from a Cigna national study found that nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent). Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis. Most other interaction is online.

These results are astounding, especially when looking at the negative effects loneliness can have on a person. Loneliness causes negative health effects like raised blood pressure, disrupted sleep, diminished immune system, depression, paranoia, anxiety as well as suicide.

Loneliness feeds on loneliness, and creates a frame of mind that is debilitating. It breeds harmful emotions like anger, blame, resentment and fear. It can also cause alcohol and drug abuse. The two tend to create a cycle. Loneliness can lead to addiction or result from it.

Addiction is a common reaction to loneliness, but so is criminal behavior. People dealing with feelings of loneliness often feel an inability to cope with problems in usual ways.

Research suggests that loneliness has often been the cause of stealing and vandalism in students, and that the most common reason criminals, convicted of rape, committed their crime was due to feelings of loneliness, inefficiency and rejection.

When one is caught in this pit of loneliness, a ladder is required to climb out. That ladder cannot be provided solely through the social media world. A support system is required. We need family, friends, coworkers and caregivers to put down their phones and physically be there. There to cherish experiences with us and help us through the rocky times, in our day-to-day lives.

Tips & Facts

How ICS Providers Avoid Paying Interstate Commissions

Have you ever actually tried to read an Inmate Phones contract? It’s about as easy as opening a clam with your bare hands. Generally speaking, U.S. contract law is not meant to be understood by the average person (or person, really), but whenever a large amount of money is at stake, the legalese is bound to be even muddier. For correctional facilities, this can mean losing out on thousands of dollars due to small, seemingly innocuous, but confusing clauses. For example, how would you interpret the following contract provision regarding interstate calling?

*Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Agreement, In accordance with Federal Communications Commission 47 CFR Part 64 [WC Docket No. 12-375; FCC13-113] – Rates for Interstate Calling Services – effective February 11, 2014, no commission shall be paid on revenues earned through the completion of Interstate calls of any type placed from the Facility(s).”

So what do you think? Would it be reasonable to conclude that an FCC ruling exists that prevents commissions from being paid on interstate calls? It would certainly seem so.

This is an actual clause that’s been included in hundreds of inmate phone contracts, and is still widely used by many major ICS providers. It has also cost county jails nationwide countless dollars in lost commissions. And that’s a shame, considering it basically means “We’re not paying you because we don’t want to.”

Let’s look a little closer to see if the FCC Ruling itself might shed some light here. The FCC did in fact take action to limit rates for interstate calling services, and that action was dated effective February 11, 2014, but nowhere in that ruling (and I do mean nowhere) did the FCC take any action directly against commissions being paid for the interstate call type. (You can download the ruling here).

It’s just not true that the FCC prevents Inmate Phone Companies from paying commissions on interstate call revenue. The FCC has stated that “site commissions do not constitute a legitimate cost to the providers of providing ICS,” but that’s an entirely different assertion. (The exact wording comes from this 2016 FCC rule).

Legitimate costs can be passed through without markup to the end consumer — credit card transaction fees are a great example. But because ICS providers can’t pass their commission payments through like other legitimate costs, some providers use the FCC ruling as an excuse for not paying interstate commissions at all.

And that would be okay, if these ICS providers were honest about what they are doing. Instead, they try to fool the County by framing this negotiable topic as predetermined by the FCC. Maybe you’ve heard this line before: “Sorry Sheriff, we can’t pay you an interstate commission because the FCC won’t let us.”

In reality, your providers are really saying: “We’d rather keep all this interstate call revenue for ourselves.” They’re just using the FCC as a scapegoat.

Here’s the bottom line. The FCC won’t let ICS providers charge more than $0.21 per minute on interstate debit/prepaid calls, and commissions on those calls can’t be passed through to the end-consumer. If your ICS provider isn’t efficient enough to make a profit under these circumstances (or if they just don’t want to share any of the revenue with you), maybe it’s time to renegotiate your agreement — or find a provider that pays you a fair commission on true gross billed revenue.

Tips & Facts

Bound at the Hip: Technology and Creativity

Are you a left brain or a right brain person? Creative or logical? Artsy or technical?

This sort of dualistic thinking is common in everyday conversation. People pride themselves on being one way or the other. However, according to postdoctoral fellow Roger Beaty at Harvard University, this type of thinking is actually a lingering myth.

Using a recently developed method in functional brain imaging analysis, Beaty found that creativity relies on a network of various parts of the brain. It relies on the connectivity of three different brain areas (not simply right or left); the default mode network, the salience network and the executive network. A creative person engages all three areas in beautiful synchronicity to solve problems.

And problem solving is the reason that we as a civilization have most of the technology that’s around today.

Combining Technology and Creativity

It has been happening since the creation of our world’s simplest technological achievements. As humans, we see a problem—we are unable to break open a coconut, the antelope are too far away or too fast for us to catch, this load of wood is too heavy to carry—and then we create technology to solve the problem—the hammer, the spear, the wheel. Eureka!

Technology and creativity go hand in hand. In fact, according to Business Insider, creativity is ranked 3rd in the top skills that employers seek, moved up from 10th in 2015. This is especially true for tech companies. Employers want creative people who can apply new tech to new products and services. Tech companies will go out of their way to try and encourage more creativity in their employees.

So it’s easy to see how creativity influences technology, but the two have a mutually beneficial relationship. Modern available tech makes a heavy impression on creativity as well.

According to a Bentley article, creativity is a measurable quality. “We are all capable of being creative,” according to Monica Garfield, PhD, a computer information systems professor at Bentley. “With the use of the correct tools our innate skills can be enhanced and harnessed.”

Technology now plays a role in creative group settings. People creatively brainstorming for a project can express their ideas far more quickly and simultaneously through web forums and social media sites, rather than face-to-face meetings.

The social media world is also a place where artists can now share their individual work and artistic ideas online to mass populations, which breaks down conventional barriers.

According to studies from the Pew Research Center, art organizations tend to agree that “…the internet and social media have ‘increased engagement’ and made art a more participatory experience, and that they have helped make ‘arts audiences more diverse.’ They also tend to agree that the internet has ‘played a major role in broadening the boundaries of what is considered art.’”

Computing and Art

Technology and creativity also join hands in the digital and graphic arts world. Computing has expanded the fields of architecture, art, the history of art, music, theater studies and many other areas.

Digital technologies are promoted as tools of artistic expression and have led to the creation of many different tools and apps that have become ever more accessible to the average person.

Digital art tools like Corel Painter, Rebelle and of course the more well-known Adobe Photoshop allow artists to expand their pallet and work in ways never before possible.

The video game industry continues to grow and is a perfect example of modern technology meeting creativity. Artists, animators, designers, developers and composers are all needed in video game production and all need to have some sense of creativity. Video game designers are allowed to be more and more creative and create more developed virtual worlds as technology continues to develop.

In the world of architecture, computing is necessary. Modern design tools like augmented reality and virtual reality can be used to give clients a better idea of what a finished building will look like. But according to a quote from Madeline Dring in Architecture Today, virtual reality technology has “quickly become a powerful design tool that can be used early on in the design process.”

The interweaving of technology and creativity has reached a point where it is hard to tell which causes which, a sort of chicken-and-the-egg situation.

The quick advance of art accessibility does cause concern for some within the art community. Worries include: shorter attention spans of audiences, the collapse of traditional art displaying methods such as museums, live music and even books which are being replaced with e-books (even this blog post isn’t found in any physical paper format).

However, humans may just need to learn how to adapt to the change. The benefits that results from joining new technology and creativity outweigh any negative side effects.

The Benefits We Don’t Notice

It’s really quite amazing to see the connection between technology and creativity, especially at the larger level, but there are also smaller benefits that often go unnoticed.

Think about the amount of time that is saved just from the basic appliances we have today. For instance, hours are no longer wasted with a washboard scrubbing clothes by hand. Just pop ‘em in the machine. Cooking is faster. Information is delivered faster. Basically, all of the leisure time that allows us to have a creative space is due to the progression of technology.

And just as this free time allowed for the exponential creation of further new technologies, so too the digital world frees people to be more creative and build off of the latest technologies. It’s something we don’t really think about once the access is there. When was the last time you thought about how convenient it really is to be able to check your e-mail through your phone?

An article from the International Youth Foundation stresses the importance of creativity as a life skill. We are living in an age with an unprecedented rate of change. Creativity coupled with complex problem-solving skills allows for the understanding of information and the ability to make decisions as dynamics shift rapidly.

Being resilient in the face of this quickly evolving world requires creativity and the right frame of mind. Access to the latest technology allows people to build off of the old ways more effectively and find their place in the new world.

Creativity in this new world of technology is essential and to be creative within it requires an understanding of technology. The two concepts are tightly intertwined, just like the wrinkles of the mind.

Tips & Facts

How to Recruit Correctional Officers Who Don’t Quit

A company is only as good as the employees that they hire, so finding the right person for the job is a vital, sometimes tedious, task. For many jail administrators, this task of recruiting and hiring correctional officers can often be all the more onerous. If you want to know how to recruit the best of the best, you’ve got to understand the position.

Being the thankless job that it is, the role of being a correctional officer comes with some big shoes to fill. Finding candidates whose skill sets and priorities align with the job description is a good place to start, but there are other crucial elements to keep on your radar when you’re learning how to recruit correctional officers who don’t quit.

Hiring Good Candidates

Knowing and understanding how to hire the right person for the job takes time and practical applicability. In order to do this effectively, one must first know how to recruit the right kind of candidates. Much of this involves having a firm understanding of the job description and advertising through the appropriate avenues. These avenues may include LinkedIn, job listing sites like Indeed, and even local newspapers and flyers.

After appropriate avenues have been selected, it’s important to have all of the candidate qualifications and prerequisites clearly established. According to’s post, standard requirements for correctional officers include, “Be at least 18 years of age, possess a high school diploma or GED, have no previous felony convictions, be a United States citizen, and possess a valid driver’s license.”

When you know how to recruit good people, everything else starts to fall into place. Although cognitive and educational requirements are important, it is equally salient to have a clear description of the best personality fit for the position. When it comes to hiring correctional officers, this personality might want to stress the desire for a person who portrays high critical thinking skills, self-discipline, good judgment, physical strength, and negotiation and interpersonal skills.

According to Chron’s article, Qualities of a Successful Correctional Officer, the top four characteristics that are sought after when recruiting correctional officers include, “observation skills, physical fitness, impartiality and communication skills.” It is vital that these personality characteristics are taken into account in the hiring process in order to ensure that the individual undertaking the job will be successful.

Why Correctional Officers Quit

Part of knowing how to recruit great officers is an awareness of what makes your position unappetizing. Ever walk down the halls at work perpetually anticipating the next time you’ll get physically attacked by a mentally ill person? Odds are, you probably haven’t. Unfortunately, these kind of unpleasant encounters are all too familiar for correctional officers.

While placing an emphasis on recruiting correctional officers is essential, retention must also be at the forefront of every administrator’s mind, as this has become a recent ongoing issue. Harriet Fox touches on this issue, stating, “With retention issues, we may have understaffing, morale issues, diminished job satisfaction, and a decrease in organizational effectiveness.” With this issue comes the domino effect leading to a plethora of other issues.

So what exactly causes a low retention rate of correctional officers? The Marshall Project delved deep in an attempt to answer this question by analyzing online reviews from correctional officers. The officers were asked to answer honestly on their opinions of their jobs, and many of their answers most definitely did not glamorize the work.

For instance, in the article, What Prison Guards Really Think About Their Jobs, it was stated that a common sentiment was that “Prison administrators turn a blind eye to understaffing, low pay, and safety.” While it’s no secret that many people feel less than satisfied with their work hours and pay, fearing for your own safety every day on the job is a whole different story.

In fact, in July this past year, an officer in the Stillwater, MN prison quit after his fellow officer was beaten and killed by an inmate. Joe Miller, who had spent 13 years guarding Minnesota’s most dangerous criminals, walked away from a competitive salary and benefits out of respect for his friend and his own sanity.

Miller shared a warning another officer gave him years ago when these violent outbreaks began, saying, “We keep getting more and more inmates to Stillwater and not enough corrections officer someone is going to get hurt or killed.” Understaffing is a serious issue amongst the general workforce, but when it places employees in danger, there’s no question that it must be addressed.

Keeping Stress at Bay

For years, doctors have preached the importance of a good diet and loads of sleep for a healthy life. More recently, greater emphasis has been placed on keeping stress in check. The real secret to feeling like a million bucks? Start meditating or join a yoga class, because that’s where the money’s at! Only joking; there are plenty of mindfulness exercises you can perform without spending a dime.

However, instituting mindfulness exercises for your staff may be a great way to reduce turnover. Managing stress is crucial for officers in order to perform their best work, and these exercises are a great way to do that. According to Forbes, “stress in the workplace can be costly because it affects not just individual well-being but also organizational performance.”

In the general workforce, stress can be triggered by a multitude of things, whether it be meeting a deadline, conflicting interests with coworkers, or not meeting a quota. For correctional officers, these triggers could include handling multiple responsibilities, pay dissatisfaction, or fear of their own and others’ safety. Since it is important that our correctional officers perform their very best on duty, stress management is vital. Perhaps these issues could be addressed if optional management training or employee assistance programs (EAP) are implemented. After all, happy CO’s, happy facility.

Dressing to Impress

An infographic depicting a well-dressed interviewee.

Knowing how to recruit the best candidates also requires knowing a little bit about fashion. According to Michigan State University’s Career Services Network, recruiters base their first impressions on the appearance of the candidate. After all, no company wants to hire employees who look disheveled and unhygienic, but this is especially crucial for correctional facilities.

In order to gain respect and approval for the title they’ve earned, it’s vital that correctional officers appear clean-cut and well groomed. This is non-negotiable.

Not only does this help establish their credibility, it builds the reputation of the prison they work for and creates incentive for other professional candidates to be recruited and hired. touches on the importance of a CO’s appearance, stating, “Sloppiness and unkemptness does not portray the image of someone who cares about the job… Inmates may attempt to take advantage of an officer they feel they can push around.” That familiar proverbial, “Confidence is Key” has never been more accurate.

Coping With Mental Illness

Mental illness, a once taboo subject, has finally earned its rightful spot at the forefront of public discourse. As many people have probably figured out on their own, it is proven that mental health has a direct impact on physical wellbeing. According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems…similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health.”

This is why it is essential for employees to stay on top of their physical and mental health. How can one properly concentrate and perform on the job when clouded with mental illness or suffering from physical ailments? They simply cannot, which is why this topic needs to be brought to light in prison facilities.

It seems only natural to assume that many prisoners living in incarceration face a great deal of mental illnesses, but what’s less-publicized is the amount of guards and officers who are plagued by this disease. Unfortunately, many correctional officers are faced with an increased risk of mental illness due to the requirements of their day to day duties. In the case where an officer at the Stillwater prison was beaten to death by an inmate, which sadly isn’t uncommon, Miller talked about the effects that wore on his mental stability.

According to the interview on CBS Local, “Miller says he couldn’t take the panic attacks anymore, and that he felt liked he’d grown into a different person…At a job where he says he felt all too often like the prisoner.”

Miller reflected on his decision to quit, saying he owed it to his sanity. What’s more, the mental state of prison employees can set the tone for the entire environment of the facility. The World Health Organization explains this phenomenon, stating, “A prison that is responsive to, and promotes the mental health of prisoners, is more likely to be a workplace that promotes the overall morale and mental health of prison staff and should therefore be one of the central objectives of good prison management.”

Measuring the Effectiveness of a Correctional Officers Test

Think just anyone can throw their name in the ring to be a correctional officer? Think again! Apart from having guts and patience, one must also pass the Correctional Officer Exam in order to land the job. The test covers three general areas: General Knowledge; Basic Skills; and Career-Specific Aptitude on professional standards, facility operations, inmate supervision, and other concepts in corrections. Other than being quite lengthy, the exam is notorious for being arduous.

In fact, according to, “Only a small percentage—roughly 3 to 4 percent of all applicants—proceed through the entire selection process, and the exam is one of the most common ares where applicants fail.” This exam is paramount in establishing the person’s cognitive and emotional tendencies before they are considered for hire. The effectiveness of this test has been proven time and time again to be superior.

Finding the right person for the job is essential, especially when a person’s job holds an immense amount of potential to influence others and their behavior. According to the American Bar Association, “It should be evident that we must select institutional personnel with regard to their ability to relate to inmates without hostility, without emotional dependence and untoward involvement and with a perceptiveness as to inmates’ motivations and needs.”

Never Stop Learning How to Recruit

Learning how to recruit correctional officers who don’t quit is a process, but it could possibly be the difference between life and death. The people you approve will a perform a role that requires as much responsibility as it does emotional fortitude. This is why knowing how to recruit and hire correctional officers is so valuable to jails and prisons.

By recruiting top of the line candidates for correctional officer positions, we can change the way prison facilities are run and, quite possibly, change lives. And once you’ve learned all there is to know about how to recruit great staff, you owe it to the next generation of jail administrators to pass that knowledge forward. That means teaching your staff how to recruit the best and brightest.

Tips & Facts

Is Technology Hurting Us? Human Nature According to Wall-E

Ever worry that your toaster might decide it’s tired of eating bread, grow fangs, and come after you in the quiet of night?

Maybe not. But the idea of new technology hurting us is a concept which humanity has been discussing since Frankenstein’s monster in the early 1800’s. More recently, films like The Terminator (1984) and The Matrix (1999) which feature machines dominating the future human race, have continued to boom with popularity, and it’s easy to see why. Technology continues to develop at an astonishing rate, and many people feel left behind.

I can hear you saying: “Wait just a second friend! I really like my toaster!”

Don’t worry. We probably don’t need to fret about being subservient to robot overlords. There are simpler, more realistic concerns worth discussing when it comes to our evolving tech world. The 2008 Pixar film, WALL-E, displays a subtler version of the future, one where we may find technology hurting us in less obvious ways, but its similarity to current reality may be more startling than Arnold Schwarzenegger pushing an Uzi in your face.

Is Technology Hurting Us?

In WALL-E, the humans of the future are portrayed as obese mindless consumers on an endless cruise in outer space. They sit complacent in automated chairs, and their technology habits keep them sedated and disengaged from the world around them, aside from drinking a food-like substance out of a straw.

They remain continuously plugged into a virtual world, to the point where people are communicating with each other through the holographic screens in front of them, even while sitting directly next to each other. They spend their time with technology frivolously; playing virtual games and socializing with people they never see face-to-face. Meanwhile, the Earth below lies in ruin, and no one has any desire to try to revive it.

It would be nice to shake-off a film like this as mere fiction, but when looking at the habits of humans today, it isn’t hard to see our current technology hurting us:

  • The obesity rate in America is the highest in the world, and that number continues to rise. According to Public Health there are a few reasons for the obesity problem in America. Rises in fast food sales correlate to a rise in body mass index, and Americans have a love affair with those greasy, paper bags that are often eaten on the go and/or in the car, eerily similar to the quick and easy “Food-In-A-Cup” from WALL-E. Fast food makes up about 11 percent of the average American diet. Other studies note that added sugars from soda and energy drinks continue to expand American waistlines. Inactivity is also one of the major reasons for the rise of obesity. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nearly 80 percent of adult Americans do not get the recommended amounts of exercise they need each week. Along with changing job activities, a growing consensus as to the reason for inactivity in Americans has to do with technology.
  • According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January 2018, because of the increased use of tablets and smartphones, 26 percent of American adults admitted that they go online “almost constantly.” That number is up from 21 percent in 2015. The research also indicated that 77 percent of Americans go online daily. The term phubbing (snubbing others in favor of your phone) isn’t going away anytime soon.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2011, estimated that the average child often spends up to seven hours every day watching television, browsing the internet or playing video games. The same article shows that there are “unhealthy eating practices learned from both the programming and the advertisements for unhealthy foods.” The effectiveness of advertising today has made startling progression: beginning with ad men like Don Draper, selling house appliances and cigarettes by taking advantage of humanity’s primal desires, and developing into the sophisticated targeted advertising now used as companies have access to people’s browser and purchase histories. The sedentary lifestyles learned at this young age through unhealthy relations with technology stay with the children into adulthood, and the advertisements only get more advanced.

WALL-E Infographic

These bad technology habits are glaring us in the face. If we don’t want to live in a society like the dystopia of WALL-E, then it is important that we look at what we can do to change our technology habits, so that rather than being controlled by evolving technology, we control it.

According to a 2018 Independent Task Force report sponsored by the (CFR) Council on Foreign Relations, “Accelerating technological change will alter or eliminate many human jobs. Although many new jobs will be created, the higher-paying ones will require greater levels of education and training. In the absence of mitigating policies, automation and artificial intelligence are likely to exacerbate inequality and leave more Americans behind.”

Good Technology Habits

So, with all of those scary statistics, you may now be wondering if your toaster really is out to get you. Again, don’t fret! Even as we find ourselves engulfed by the tech world, we can develop plenty of good habits to help keep our minds sharp, and not live with the apprehension of technology hurting us.

In education, the use of technology is no longer a convenience, it is a necessity. Employers expect new hires to be well-trained in using relevant technologies. According to a 2017 article in the Pediatrics Child Health journal put forth by the Oxford University Press, early research indicates that certain technology habits help children retain taught information more effectively.

The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) bulletin reported research which shows that younger brains can process information more quickly than previous generations, and can transition from tasks more easily. People who grew up in the modern tech era are better conditioned for the constant switching that occurs between various tech devices and open windows. However, older adults tend to be superior in focusing and holding longer attention spans.

Between both articles, an overlap of good tech habits are provided below which everyone should be able to stick to:

  • Screen time for children younger than two years is not recommended.
  • Ensure that sedentary screen time (mindless programming or gaming) is not routine.
  • Maintain daily screen-free times, for communal meals and book reading.
  • Avoid screens for at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Turn off screens when not in use / avoid background TV.
  • Choose healthy alternatives to screen time such as outdoor activities.
  • Play an instrument or meditate uninterrupted for 30 minutes a day.
  • Learn another language.
  • Regular breaks for stretching and screen-free time (at the office).

The main thing to remember, when trying to cultivate good technology habits, is to be mindful of the fact that technology is a tool. According to the CFR, embracing technological innovation and speeding its adoption are critical for United States’ national security and economic competitiveness. To secure our nation’s place as a technical innovation hearth, it is crucial to educate people about developing technologies and maintain healthy tech habits.

So, rather than the apocalyptic notion of a new technology hurting us, we should learn more about our toasters so they can’t attack us in our sleep.

Good Technology Habits in Corrections

Because it is so crucial to cultivate these good habits, access to the newest technologies is also necessary. This becomes very difficult for citizens who are imprisoned who have limited access to these technologies.

Whenever a new technology concept emerges, there’s a warming-up period for the general public to become comfortable using it. For inmates trying to find a job when leaving prison, everyone else is already a step ahead of them when it comes to the technology game.

There have been many cases of inmates leaving prison, overwhelmed by how advanced modern computers have become, who are reluctant to try to use them. Being connected to the latest technology allows people to increase online/tech skills, make connections, and improve confidence—all of which future employers appreciate.

According to various articles, including a Slate article by Mia Armstrong published June 2018, prisoners not having access to the evolving world of tech and social media causes an increase in recidivism.

Keeping prisoners up-to-date on current technologies through social media training, digital literacy programs, and access to coding courses, gives them better opportunities when jumping into the job market. Research conducted in 2016 by the RAND Corporation shows that “individuals who participate in any type of educational program while in prison are 43 percent less likely to return to prison.”

So, is technology hurting us? Nope, but just like in the movie WALL-E, it is affecting us. Technology is essential and beneficial to humanity. It all depends on whether or not we want to develop good habits.