A Psychologist Wears the Apple Watch for a Week. Is It a Mindfulness Killer?

I have a confession to make.  And I’m afraid it’s either going to make me sound like a technology hater or a grumpy, old curmudgeon.  I hate Apple watches.  Okay okay, perhaps “hate” is too strong of a word, so let me rephrase that.  I have some major concerns about the Apple watch and what it’s doing to us as humans.

 

Hear me out.

 

 

If you’re a regular here, then you know how much I talk about mindfulness.  Quick refresher, mindfulness is about focusing your attention on the present moment with an open and non-judgmental attitude.  It involves being all in to whatever moment is happening, training your brain to pay attention and focus in on what you’re doing right at this very moment.

 

Over the last year, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend.  Someone is sitting across from me, either at dinner or in therapy, intensely focused and engrossed in conversation.  Then, without warning, they glance down at their watch, seemingly distracted.  After a few quick seconds they glance back up, attempting to refocus and reengage.

 

But in that moment, no matter how quick, something concerning happens.  Their focus breaks, their attention shifts, and they’re taken out of what they’re doing.  They’re present and in the moment, and then with just a simple buzz, they’re gone.

 

While this may not seem that concerning once in a while, when you’re wearing an Apple watch, it’s not just once in a while.  It’s often.  Your attention is suddenly in the hands of a tiny little device, strapped to your wrist, as you’re notified of calls, texts, alerts, and emails.

 

It’s hard enough to be mindful in today’s society.  Our brains aren’t built for what we’re experiencing today.  It’s stimulation overload.  And my fear is that the Apple watch just adds another distraction to our already crowded brains.

 

A Psychologist Wears the Apple Watch for a Week. Is It a Mindfulness Killer?

 

I’ve talked before about how addicting cell phones are.  (You can read that post here.)  And smart watches are meant to be an extension of your cell phone.  So, by association, aren’t they also addicting?  We know that just the mere presence of a cell phone at dinner impacts the quality of conversation, even if the phone never rings.  So, what are the implications when this phone isn’t just resting on the table, but instead strapped to your wrist?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I can totally see the appeal of wearing an Apple watch.  At the tip of your fingertips, you’ve got access to all sorts of information.  You’re available and reachable nearly everywhere you go.  You can be notified the instant someone is trying to reach you.  And while I certainly see why this is exciting, I can’t help but wonder, is it really necessary?  And more important than that, is it really healthy?

 

So I decided to do a little experiment.  I decided to test out my concerns.  I promised to have a more open mind about the Apple watch.  Plenty of people, including my husband, have them, and I figured some of them must be onto something.  (I’ll spare you the details of the marital conversations that surrounded that purchase!)

 

I decided that I couldn’t have such strong feelings without really giving the watch a try.  So I decided to wear an Apple watch for an entire week, documenting the good, the bad, and everything in between.   This should be interesting…

 

PS: Check back next week to hear all about my experience and what I learned.  And hear my answer to the big question, “Is the Apple watch a mindfulness killer and a harm to your mental health?”

2 Comments

  1. Bonnie Lewis

    Looking forward to hearing how you feel after wearing the watch for a week! I haven’t bought one yet for exactly some of the reasons you listed…feel the phone is a big enough distraction.

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