Pay Attention: Finding balance in the age of tech

CBS News

Last Updated Apr 26, 2018 2:58 PM EDT

In our new series, Pay Attention, we're looking at the role technology plays in our lives in a different way: its impact on our ability to focus and how we can recapture our attention from the devices that distract us. By the end of our series we hope to find the happy medium between the two.   

Part I: Day without technology

When is the last time you spent a day entirely free of technology?

To start our process and establish a baseline, our "CBS This Morning" cameras followed co-host John Dickerson at home to document how he uses his phone and computer on a typical Saturday. Then we went back for a not-so-typical Saturday where he abstained from technology for the entire day.


On the "CBS This Morning" podcast, "How to Break Up With Your Phone" author Catherine Price offers tips on unplugging from your devices. Talking with CBS News' Michelle Miller, Price explains how our cell phones are affecting our brains and are designed to keep our attention. 

Price also joined the "CBS This Morning" table to break down her 30-day plan to "take back your life" from your digital devices. She said it's not about going on a "digital diet" per se but rather about "finding balance." And, yes, you should probably delete your Instagram. 

"So one thing that people do that messes them up when they try to change their relationship with their phone is that they jump in to making these little changes, like turning it to grayscale, without having a broader vision of what they want out of their relationship and also what they want to spend their newfound time on," Price said. 

"CBS This Morning" co-host John Dickerson sits down with Dr. Michael Baime, director of University of Pennsylvania's mindfulness program, to discuss what devices are doing to our brain and how kids' relationship with technology differs from adults.  

Part II: Sensory deprivation 

Dickerson explores if sensory deprivation tanks can help short-circuit the noise. It's about as far as a person can get from the chirpy world of breaking news, social media, email and the rest of what pinballs through our heads these days.

He also writes about what he discovered in the process: "You can really lose yourself when there's no stopping point to the fishing line you cast. Time also dashed by. There was no boredom. Just being – and then suddenly I was awake and the hour was over." 

Part III: Forest bathing

Dickerson goes forest bathing, a practice of immersing yourself in nature by engaging the five senses. It's not a hike -- there is no destination or goal -- it's about discovery and awareness. He also speaks to some experts who explain how spending time in nature can nurture not just the brain, but the body too.