Tanya Goodin launched one of the first digital businesses in the UK and was a pioneer in the digital revolution; nowadays her focus is on how to ensure we continue to use the digital world for good. She is the founder of digital wellbeing movement Time To Log Off, a keynote speaker, host of the podcast ‘It's Complicated: untangling the relationship with our phones', and the author of two books on our relationship with screens; Off and Stop Staring at Screens.
What kind of devices do you use, and how do you use them?
I have an iPhone and a laptop (MacBook Pro) I pretty much do everything on my phone so my laptop is used rarely. I have rules around when and how I use my phone though: I build in complete digital detox breaks throughout my week and year, to give myself completely screen‑free time.
Effectiveness requires focus. How vulnerable are you to the distraction industry?
Very vulnerable! Aren’t we all? Silicon Valley is a billion‑dollar industry and they have the best brains in the world working out how to distract us – and they do it very well. It’s only by completely putting my phone away and taking deliberate and mindful breaks that I’m able to escape their distraction tricks.
Prominent figures in Silicon Valley are known to strongly limit their children’s contact with tech. Madonna has recently said that she believes she made a mistake in giving her older children phones when they were 13.
The differences between people who grew up before smartphones and those who didn’t?
I think those who grew up before smartphones are able to recall a time before we all had our heads in screens, and we realise more than most what we’ve lost. That perhaps makes us the most vocal about the need to put screens down. Having said that, more and more I meet members of Gen Z — the current generation still in schools — who also want to use screens less. It’s only by working together that we’ll be able to crack this problem.