Technology is now just about ubiquitous in daily life, but that fact alone doesn’t seem to cover just how all-encompassing our relationships with tech can be. Whether it’s work, play, communication, or some combination of the three, technology is what’s making it happen.
While the benefits here are obvious, the potential drawbacks should not be overlooked as a result. Unhealthy relationships with technology can lead to problems both professionally and personally. All the same, tech isn’t simply something that you can toss out the window. You need to have positive relationships with your technology in order to get the most out of it — here are eight startups that are looking to help you do so:
Though it was designed more as an all-around wellness app, Headspace can be a valuable tool for making your relationship with technology a more positive one. The platform itself features a number of different courses, videos, and guides towards improving your overall quality of life — whether through better sleep, meditation, or increased levels of mindfulness. While technology use isn’t bad in itself, it’s easy for smartphones and laptops to start to cause stress or cut into valuable rest and recreation time. Headspace can significantly cut down on this by helping you focus on what’s important and cut out any unnecessary distractions.
Some people may prefer to have their tech cut out distractions directly. To this end, the phones from Gabb Wireless go a long way towards cutting down on excess usage. Gabb phones have all of the talk and text capabilities that traditional smartphones do but without any of the unnecessary features such as email or internet access. Although Gabb phones are intended for younger users, they serve as great communication tools for anyone who finds themselves spending too much time scrolling, refreshing, and updating feeds on their smartphones.
While Headspace may have a number of different features for maximizing all-around wellness, some people are really just in need of improving one crucial aspect of their lives: sleep. Unhealthy tech usage can lead to serious impact on sleep, encouraging restlessness and decreasing the amount of time spent getting restorative rest. To help combat this, Dreem developed a headband that monitors a user’s activity during sleep.
Equipped with EEG and pulse sensors as well as a microphone to detect breathing irregularities, the Dreem headband provides the necessary biofeedback for helping restless sleepers wake up feeling restored. If you can’t cut down on tech use, you might as well use a product that can help counteract the negative effects that tech usage can have on sleep.
4. 7 Cups
Having a healthy relationship with technology doesn’t just mean reducing screen time and blue light exposure; it also means using tech in a way that makes you healthier as a person. There are a number of startups looking to improve lives through tech, but few are as accessible and impactful as 7 Cups. 7 Cups is a platform that can help you connect with therapy and counseling outlets online for free — simple as that. What makes 7 Cups so powerful is that it doesn’t need to be used regularly in order to effect positive change; simply knowing that you can connect with someone who can help at the push of a button can go a long way.
What if Siri, in addition to being a virtual assistant, also could take steps to help you use technology in a healthier, more productive way? That’s the idea behind Opal, a digital aide designed to help nudge you towards better tech habits in the long run. Once installed, Opal can block or disable popular time sink apps such as Twitter, Instagram, or other social networking sites. Since the intention is long-term improvement, Opal sets daily goals for time saved, helping you see just how much of a tangible impact digital mindfulness can have. If screen time is a problem for you, Opal can help find a solution.
Smartphone usage in particular can put a serious strain on long-form or informative reading; with so much entertainment at your fingertips, why try to wrestle with big ideas while on the bus? Blinkist hopes to combat this by condensing the big ideas of hundreds of influential non-fiction books into easy-to-read summaries. Clocking in at between 10 and 20 minutes of reading time, each of these summaries gives you the information you need to start incorporating these ideas into your own life — way more consequential than refreshing your feed for the nth time is.
All the same, smartphones are great for keeping up with the news — if you know how to put a hard limit on your scrolling. Getting lost in the news cycle is easier than ever and can put a serious strain on your mental health over time. Flipboard is the ideal antidote for this, as it curates a small number of stories daily that cater to your interests while still keeping you informed. By compiling a number of different outlets and writers into one cohesive feed, Flipboard gives you the selection you need without leading you down a time-wasting rabbit hole.
Your mind is a complicated place, so what if your tech could help you map it out? SimpleMind aims to do just that by employing an easy-to-use interface that allows users to make a flowchart of their thoughts. Flowcharts can even have images, videos, or audio attached to them at various points, making them usable for everything from project management to vacation planning. Trying to keep track of everything in the age of technology is next-to-impossible; SimpleMind can help you slow down and figure out exactly what your thought patterns look like, helping you maintain a clear head while everything else buzzes around you.
Tech isn’t going anywhere; the onus is on you to make the most of your relationship with it. Thankfully, these startups and more are developing lasting solutions that can have a serious impact on how you use technology — all you need to do is sign up.