84. Breaking Screen Addiction: Strategies for Mindful Tech Use as A Traveling Therapist with Jake Ernst

84. Breaking Screen Addiction: Strategies for Mindful Tech Use as A Traveling Therapist with Jake Ernst

On this episode of The Traveling Therapist podcast,  I interview Jake Ernst, a therapist specializing in the impact of technology on well-being, who discusses the concerning effects of screen addiction and strategies to break the dopamine addiction associated with excessive device usage. Jake and I explore the addictive nature of social media and how it affects the brain, leading to an increase in anxiety, decreased attention span, and reduced sleep quality. 

Jake emphasizes the need to replace shame with compassion when addressing screen dependency, as these apps are intentionally designed to be addictive. He offers practical tips, such as using grayscale mode on smartphones to reduce the attractiveness of apps and implementing dopamine detoxes to reset the relationship with screens.

Throughout our discussion, Jake stresses the importance of self-awareness and setting boundaries to avoid passive and antisocial screen usage. He encourages users to consider active and prosocial interactions online, like engaging with others and sharing meaningful content. Jake advocates for tech-free days to restore balance and be more present in real-life experiences. The key takeaway is to approach screen usage with compassion and recognize that breaking the dopamine addiction requires understanding the addictive design of technology and implementing mindful practices to promote healthier digital habits. We related this to the traveling therapist lifestyle and how to break away from technology especially when we are exploring the world as traveling therapists. 

Key points:

  • Strategies for breaking screen addiction and living a more mindful life.
  • Understanding the addictive nature of technology and its impact on our brains.
  • How to implement tech-free days and create a healthier relationship with screens.

Jake Ernst is the Clinical Director at Straight Up Health, which is a mental health clinic for young people and their families in Toronto, Canada. As a therapist, Jake helps people identify patterns that are keeping them stuck so they can reconnect with themselves and build a life they love. In his work and writing, Jake explores how modern technology is changing how we think, feel, relate, and connect.

Jake Ernst, Social Worker & Psychotherapist

Jake Ernst, MSW RSW (he/him)

Clinical Director, Straight Up Health


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