Each week for the month of October, we will take a new perspective to the NCSAM topics and give insight into more improved options.
What if we chose to use our connected devices to improve ourselves — because they are already changing us.
It’s the end of October, which means National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2020 is coming to an end. This week NCSAM looked at the future of connected devices.
But First, A Look Back
In 2005, only 1 billion people were on the internet. Now, over 4 billion people use the internet, that’s over 55% of the world’s population according to research done by International Telecommunication Union.
Multiply that number by the proliferation of devices — many of us have several connection points to the internet during the day: computers, smart phones, smart watches, smart TVs, voice assistants, GPS, etc. Which explains why there were 9.5 billion active IoT devices at the end of 2019, according to IoT Analytics. That’s 1.2 billion devices more than was forecast for that point in time.
According to another study, we spent 6 hours and 42 minutes online per day in 2019— roughly half of that on social media. “That figure sounds like a lot, but it’s absolutely astronomical when spread across an entire year. It equates to more than 100 days of online time every year for every Internet user.” And that was before COVID-19 which has only increased the amount of time we use the internet to stay connected — to work, to school, to entertainment, to others.
Our Present Addiction
Technology has changed us in many ways.
Physically, there’s ‘computer neck’ now and the health challenges of more sedentary lifestyles — most of those hours on technology are sitting still.
Emotionally, there’s been an increase in anxiety and entire generations suffer from FOMO (the fear of missing out).
Brains are more structured around ‘reward loops’ since digital interactions are designed to release dopamine — which explains why we’re all so hooked on it. Yes, our current ‘attention economy’ uses technology (and our psychology and neurobiology) against us.
And while spatial reasoning is improving, most people struggle with verbal skills and logical thinking.
On top of that, our attention spans have globally decreased. In the past 15 years, our attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to only 8 seconds.
At this point, it seems clear: we are collectively addicted.
The Future Possibilities
Since there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle, what if we could leverage that addiction and channel it into learning and improving? Adam Gazzaley, Professor of Neurology at University of California San Francisco wrote, “technology can offer us an incredible opportunity to enhance our cognition and enrich our lives. Figuring this out is our next great technological and human challenge.”
As we all know, technology, devices, social media, and ‘being connected’ isn’t all bad. Can you imagine surviving this pandemic without technology? It would be unimaginable.
More than that, “some studies have shown some video games and apps can improve working memory, fluid intelligence [problem-solving], and multitasking skills.” Technology could make us better. We could leverage it to learn more easily, remember better, and accomplish more.
As we end this National Cyber Security Awareness Month contemplating the future of connected devices, consider how we will use those devices — and not just let them use us. There is a huge amount of potential — not just in the proliferation of users, platforms, and devices but in personal development, skill training, and collective and individual improvement. Stronger is working on ways to do this — are you?