Screen Addiction: 5 Warning Signs You Should Watch Out For

Posted on Monday, October 19th, 2020 at 8:00 am    

A 2019 Pew Research Study shows that 81% of Americans now own smart phones, nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults now own a desktop or laptop computer, and roughly half own a tablet or e-reader device. If these numbers do not shock you, assumedly, it is because technology has become integrated in almost every facet of our lives; while most see this integration as an asset, some researchers are now warning that too much time in front of screens can cause “screen addiction” and could have a lasting effect on you and your family. Here are 5 warning signs that you or someone close to you may be experiencing screen addiction:

1. Loss of Interest in and/or Focus on Daily Activities

Would your child or loved one prefer to play video games or watch YouTube rather than play outside? Would you rather catch up on your favorite show or surf social media rather than head to the gym or get some work done? Chances are, you or someone close to you could be addicted to a device. A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine, in which they examined a random sample of 2-17 year old children and adolescents in the U.S., found that 1 hour or more of daily screen time was associated with lower psychological well-being, including less curiosity, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, and an inability to finish tasks. Unfortunately, the parents aren’t much better, as a number of adults report that phones and other devices have decreased their work productivity. Nearly 15% of adults say they often lose focus at work, because they are checking their cellphones. If the screens begin to pull you or others away from daily activities, you may be suffering from screen addiction.

2. Real Relationships Take a Back Seat to Virtual Ones

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center discovered a stunning finding that 51% of teens say they often or sometimes find their parent or caregiver to be distracted by their own cellphone when they are trying to have a conversation with them. That same study showed that nearly six out of ten adults regularly feel obligated to immediately respond to messages on their cellphones, regardless of where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing. If you or someone you know feels more of a connection to what is on their phone than what is in front of them, there may be an issue with screen addiction.

3. Symptoms of Depression

Research suggests that the brain of someone playing video games or browsing social media shows an increased level of dopamine, a chemical present in reward processing and addiction. This release of dopamine is what draws both teens and adults to the over usage of technology in their lives. Adversely, some studies show that too much screen time can cause depression. A study of over a million U.S. 8th – 12th graders conducted by researchers at SDSU and the University of Georgia found that teens who spent more time in front screens were less happy than those who spent their time in non-screen activities, such as sports, reading books/magazines, and face-to-face social interaction. Some reasons for this could range from online bullying to comparing themselves to others on social media. Regardless of the reason, if you have noticed a change in mood or demeanor in yourself or someone close to you, there is a chance that screen usage played a role.

4. Decline in Empathy and/or Increase in Narcissism

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy is believed to have played an important role in the evolution of our species. However, studies show that college students’ scores on multiple measures of empathy have seen the most significant drop in history at the same time that the world has seen the most significant increase in screens and technology. Another study conducted by the Pew Research Center, which sampled 100 college students, found those that posted often on social media scored higher on measures of narcissism. The jury is still out on whether screen usage is a direct correlation between a decrease in empathy and an increase in narcissism, but if you notice yourself or others starting to exhibit these symptoms, it may be time to look at the individual’s screen usage screen usage.

5. Suffering from Withdrawals

Another Pew Research Center study found that nearly 42% of teens reported feeling anxiety when not in the presence of their phones, 25% reported a feeling of loneliness, and another 24% reported a feeling of anger. Altogether, a massive 56% of teens report feeling a negative emotion in the absence of their cellphone. You may think these numbers are disheartening, but ask yourself: Would you suffer from withdrawals if you were without your phone? Iowa State University researchers have developed a questionnaire to help you determine whether you would:

  • I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
  • I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
  • I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate to family or friends.
  • I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.

If you agree with any of those statements, you may suffer from withdraws when you are without your phone, and it may be time to consider limiting your screen time.

What to Do Now?

If you or someone you know is suffering from screen addiction, researchers recommend trying tech-free dinners, no-tech periods throughout the day, and keeping your phone away from your nightstand. You can also increase your non-screen activities, such as recreation, sports, and face-to-face time with family, friends, and loved ones. If someone’s screen addiction has surpassed a comfortable level, and you feel simple time away from their device does not resolve the addiction, there are several services available, one of which includes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline, that can help.

Low Maintenance Plants for Easy Gardening

Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2020 at 8:00 am    

By: Calle Mendenhall, Attorney with Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP

Despite increased time at home this year, no one wants to spend their time or energy on stressful, high-maintenance plants. Our lives are stressful enough these days. Instead, we want to spend time enjoying our surroundings, our families, and loved ones. With restricted access to our fitness centers, restaurants, and stores we’ve spent more time in yards and gardens this year. Selecting low maintenance plants allows us the opportunity to spend more time enjoying our yards and gardens and not struggling with them.

When more people think of low maintenance plants, small green colorless shrubs usually come to mind. However, low maintenance does not have to mean boring. Low maintenance plants can be beautiful and add the right color and texture to your garden. Low maintenance plants can also attract butterflies and other small, welcomed, garden animals.

The first key to selecting the best options for your yard is to look at the country’s “grow zones”. A quick Google search will let you know which zone you are in. The United States has a zone range of 2-10. Once you know your zone, you can make the best choice for your yard. Here are some colorful, low maintenance and easy to find, options for each zone.

  • Queen Anne’s Lace (zone 2): This hardy annual has small upright bunches of white flowers. All you need to do is simply spread the seeds over the area you’d like for them to grow. Don’t worry if you do not see flowers the first year, Queen Anne’s Lace typically starts blooming flowers the second year. You can plant this in the early spring or in the fall when seeds will lie dormant.
  • Blue Star (zones 2-8): This perennial blooms from about March to May. The flowers are blue to purple and the plant can grow 1-3 ft tall. This plant would do well in a natural looking garden. This plant may also grow the first year and bloom the second. You can plant these in the fall and over winter.
  • Echinacea (zones 3-8): Also known as a “cone flower”, the flowers of these plants are usually pink or white and can grow from 2-4 feet tall. It is best to plant these in the fall. Echinacea typically blooms from early to midsummer and may repeat bloom through frost. Butterflies and bees love this plant.
  • Yarrow (zones 3-9): This perennial grows a couple feet tall and can be white, yellow, pink, or red. Yarrow blooms in the late spring or early summer with many species blooming into the fall. It is best to plant these in the spring or early summer.
  • Coreopsis (zone 3-9): This plant has both annual and perennial species. Coreopsis is a sun-loving perennial with daisy-like flowers that bloom in the summer and fall and are 1-3 feet tall. The best time of year to plant these is the fall. If you choose a perennial variety, it will likely start blooming the second year.
  • Zinnias (zone 3-10): These are a common and popular annual flowering plant. There are a lot of varieties and because they grow fast, they are wonderful at keeping weeds out. Zinnias are also wonderful butterfly magnets and will help bring vibrant color and life to your garden. Plant these in the spring after the last frost.

Adding one or several of these low maintenance, flowering plants will give you the color your garden needs from spring through fall. Happy gardening!

A Guide to Creating Positive Habits

Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 at 8:00 am    

By: Meredith Maitrejean, Attorney with Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP

Are there parts of your life that deserve more attention or that you need to put more energy towards? This could be as simple as wanting to drink more water each day to more complex goals such as saving up for a big purchase. While these tasks seem to be of completely different proportions, there is one common way to achieve whatever you set your mind to: creating good habits for yourself. Whether you realize it or not, your regular habits affect your day to day life. If there is something you would like to accomplish, consider following the steps below to create favorable habits that will help you reach your aspiration.

1. Set a Goal for Yourself

The first step to creating good habits is to figure out what your goal is. In order to be successful with a good habit, you should have a specific goal in mind and a reason of why you want to reach that goal. For instance, if you want to start drinking more water so that you are better hydrated and have more energy, calculate how much more water you need to take in to be sufficiently hydrated. No matter how big or small the goal is or the length of time it will take to reach that goal, knowing exactly what your goal is and why you want to attain this goal is crucial to creating and keeping good habits.

2. Create a Plan to Achieve that Goal

Once you have your goal and the reasoning behind that goal, think of things you can do to reach that goal. Do some research to see how other people have achieved this goal, and also research things that kept others from achieving this goal. From there, pick things you can incorporate into your daily life that will realistically work best for you and will be something that you will be able to do continuously. For example, you could invest in a great water bottle that you can incorporate into your daily routine if your goal is to drink more water each day.

Start your good habit with a small yet effective thing you can do regularly to get closer to your goal. Set a daily reminder for yourself to repeat this effort, whether it be a phone alert or writing a reminder and putting it somewhere you will see it. As this small effort begins to be a part of your regular routine, build upon that effort by doing a little more at a gradual pace. To continue the water consumption example, begin by researching how many ounces of water you should drink each day. Then start with 25-50% of that number. Week by week, increase your water intake by 10-25% daily until you are drinking 100% of the recommended ounces per day. Starting small can help you get past the initial fear of failing and help you see that even a small amount of effort will build and get you closer to your goal.

3. Keep Track of Your Good Work

A big part of creating good habits is being consistent. Keep track of the good habits you have created for yourself. Keeping track will serve as an additional reminder to regularly do the habit you chose to incorporate into your routine and as motivation to see how far you have progressed since you started. There are multiple ways to keep track of your efforts, such as keeping a handwritten journal or finding an app on your phone. Tracking your efforts will also help you see if your new habit is getting you closer to your goal or if you need to incorporate a different or an additional habit to accomplish your goal.

Creating good habits can seem daunting and overwhelming at first. However, by creating a plan, putting that plan into action, and being consistent, your good habits will quickly become a part of your regular routine.

3 Ways to Lower Stress in this Pandemic

Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2020 at 3:52 pm    

By: Anastasia Allmon, Attorney with Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP

1. Manage Expectations, Be Kind to Yourself

People are now working where they live and living where they work. Some intend to return to the office once the pandemic is over, but many may remain remote. Everyone who is used to going into an office every morning has to figure out and adapt to working from home, one day at a time. Each new home “office” most likely presents its own challenges – whether it’s small children, pets, loud neighbors, etc., it’s probably safe to say everybody is doing the work-from-home thing a little differently – while simultaneously trying to manage twenty other things that demand immediate attention. The volume of emails, messages, and Zoom calls has reached a whole new level during the pandemic. Perhaps there is now an assumption that everyone is (or should be) in front of a computer at all times, especially those working remotely – and as such, it seems like everyone who needs something needs it immediately, and every email requires (and expects) an instant response.

Coupled with all the social restrictions during this pandemic, it is easy to get buried in work and forget to break away from the screen every now and then – endless emails and notifications can become overwhelming and make it hard to take a break. However, in this strange new and inherently stressful reality, maintaining at least some normalcy helps lower the stress – it’s okay to take breaks, go for a walk, take thirty minutes to exercise, and it’s important to manage others’ expectations of what working from home should look like – the emails, messages, and the ever-growing to-do list will still (and always) be there, but getting rid of the stress in trying to keep up and speed up will undoubtedly play a huge role in lowering the overall level of stress during this already difficult time.

2. Try Something New

The pandemic not only changed the way people work, but it has also affected people’s ways of relieving stress. Social distancing requirements and other health and safety concerns have prevented many from being able to engage in hobbies and other activities, which were previously a part of daily life and provided opportunities to relieve stress. It is not surprising that stress levels are on the rise, especially factoring in the sudden sharp decrease in social interaction and physical contact. Therefore, now is the perfect time to try doing something new – take advantage of the outdoors, go on a bike ride, find a hiking trail, learn to play tennis or golf, pick up gardening, or learn how to cook or play an instrument. Finding new or creative stress outlets and being able to do something enjoyable while still observing social distancing will undoubtedly bring back a sense of normalcy and further help lower overall stress levels.

3. Be Intentional About Staying Connected

Despite all the technology that made it possible and easy for people to stay connected while remaining physically apart, it is somehow equally as easy to lose touch with others and become disconnected from loved ones. In managing all the stressors brought about by this pandemic, it is often difficult to carve out time to call or Facetime a friend or family member just to check in, and it is also easy to get distracted and simply forget to do so.

However, it seems that the longer people allow themselves to be disconnected from each other, the easier it becomes to continue down that path, and as that distance grows, it can quickly develop into feelings of loneliness, isolation, and additional stress and anxiety. Therefore, during this time of having to be physically distant from others, it is important to be intentional about maintaining relationships and social connections with friends and family. Setting a goal to put in the effort to call, text, or Facetime loved ones will ensure that no relationships are lost and will keep away the stress that comes with feeling disconnected or alone, especially during this uncertain and difficult time.

Five FRP Lawyers Listed as Top Attorneys of Birmingham for 2020

Posted on Friday, September 11th, 2020 at 11:11 am    

top birmingham attorneys 2020

Five attorneys from Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP were recognized in Birmingham Magazine’s 2020 list of Top Attorneys. This peer-reviewed list surveyed nearly 4,000 local attorneys and registered members of Birmingham Bar Associations. This year’s list also includes a special “Legends” category for attorneys who have decades of service in the legal profession.

The Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP attorneys who were recognized are listed below, alongside their categories:

  • Legend | Kirby Farris
  • Personal Injury | Kirby Farris
  • Personal Injury | Brett Hollett
  • Personal Injury | Meredith K Maitrejean
  • Personal Injury | Ken Riley
  • Rising Star | Meredith K Maitrejean
  • Mass Tort / Class Action | Calle Mendenhall

Click here to view the issue of Birmingham Magazine.

Darius A. Crayton featured on Lawyer Stories Instagram

Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 at 3:28 pm    

Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP‘s Darius A. Crayton was recently featured on the Lawyer Stories Instagram page. The Lawyer Stories Instagram and website highlights what inspired the people it features to become attorneys.

To video the Instagram post telling Mr. Crayton’s story, click here.

UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center shares benefit of Farris, Riley & Pitt and Lewis & Feldman’s Smart Kit Initiative

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 at 10:49 am    

In November of 2019, our firm partnered with Injury Board and Lewis & Feldman to donate smart kits to UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center patients. Our goal was to create kits for patients who suffered catastrophic injuries to help them return to as normal a life as possible through the use of voice or remote activated technology. Today, UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center shared with us how the smart kits are benefiting their patients:

Meet Ceairra: She suffered a C6 complete spinal cord injury due to a car accident. After hard work and with the help of the amazing staff at UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center, she made great progress and is now able to drive a power chair, feed herself, groom herself, dress her upper body and use technology. Ceairra’s mom will be her primary caregiver, but she is eager to be as independent as possible.

Jenny Agricola with UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center shared her experience when selecting Ceairra and other patients for one of the smart kits: “I knew she would truly benefit from using the items in the smart kits. Her and her mom were thrilled since they had been looking at purchasing several of these items when funds were available.  I was able to do a demo with them both on setting up and using the devices, and with the great videos you created, I know they will be able to get everything set up at home. Thank you for this wonderful donation; they are truly life changing for so many patients.”

Ceairra has come such a long way during her rehab program. We are gratified to have been a part of her recovery process. The devices in her smart kit will help her with some of the things we take for granted in our day-to-day lives, such as turning on/off the lights or television, answering the phone, playing music or even finding out the day’s news or weather.

To learn more about the Injury Board Smart Kits Initiative, visit our community involvement page.

Birmingham’s 54-year-old Antonio Leon Ellison Struck by a Pickup Truck While Walking

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 at 9:47 am    

On Friday, July 10th, at 10:03 p.m., 54-year-old Antonio Leon Ellison, of Birmingham, was struck by a pickup truck while walking in the 400 block of 3rd Avenue West. Ellison succumbed to his injuries minutes after the collision occurred. The driver of the pickup truck alerted the authorities and remained at the scene to help with Birmingham Police Department’s ongoing investigation.




What factors come into play when a pedestrian is involved?
WBRC Fox6’s LawCall Host, Tiffany Bittner, interviews Attorney Ken Riley.

TIFFANY BITTNER: Ken, my heart breaks for the friends and family of Antonio Ellison. I can’t imagine what they must be going through. I believe this may be the first incident we’ve covered that involves a pedestrian, which makes me wonder if you see a lot of these types of cases?

KEN RILEY: Tiffany, as with any accident containing injuries and especially deaths, I’d love to say they are rare occurrences, but most of the time, that’s simply not the case. However, we do see far less cases involving pedestrians than we do involving multiple vehicles. That being said, we do currently have a few cases in this category, one of which happened only a couple of months ago.

TIFFANY BITTNER: I agree with you, Ken. While I’m glad the numbers are lower than others, I wish we could eliminate them altogether. Since these types of cases are less common than others, what are some different factors one needs to look for when building a case like this?

KEN RILEY: Primarily, you must consider all the details of the case. Who is listed as the at-fault party on the accident report? Why are they listed rather than the other party? Were there any factors involved that could point to the injured party having contributed to the accident? In a case involving a pedestrian, those factors could look like anything from jaywalking or wearing dark clothing at night to walking down the wrong side of the street. These are all things to be considered when building a case like this, to determine whether or not both parties helped contribute to the accident.

TIFFANY BITTNER: How would one determine if the pedestrian somehow contributed to the accident, and how would that affect the case?

KEN RILEY: Well, the clothing the pedestrian was wearing at the time of the incident will be apparent, but as for jaywalking or being negligent of pedestrian traffic laws, if there is security footage in the area, that could be pulled and reviewed to see how exactly the accident occurred. One could also investigate to see if there were any witnesses, and they could be asked to make a statement. Regarding the affect, it really depends. We focus on the conduct of the driver of the offending vehicle and ask – Why did this happen? Why didn’t the driver see the pedestrian? What was the driver doing inside of the vehicle instead of paying attention? How can this harm be prevented in the future?

Note: The information included in this post was derived from secondary sources and has not been independently confirmed. Any inaccurate information will be corrected immediately after being brought to the site’s attention. If you identify any false information within this story, please inform us immediately so we can adjust the post to contain the most accurate information available surrounding this event.

Disclaimer: The intent of this post is to provide general information to our readers and to help improve the safety and quality of life for those who live in our state. At Farris, Riley & Pitt Law Firm, we intend to honor those who are victimized in accidents across Alabama. We aim to provide up to date information to the public surrounding these incidents in hopes of helping others avoid becoming victims themselves. If anyone is involved in an accident, we would like to make sure they know how to respond, should a tragedy occur. Information in this post, should not be considered legal or medical advice. You should seek further assistance from a legal or medical professional if you or a loved one is a victim in an accident. Any photos depicted in these posts are not representative of the actual accident scene.

Birmingham School of Law posts Alumni Spotlight Article on Kirby Farris

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 at 3:52 pm    

The Birmingham School of Law has posted an Alumni Spotlight about attorney Kirby Farris. The article describes some of Farris’s early career, as well as where he likes to focus his practice.

To read the full article, click here.

Kirby Farris quoted in “Ala. employers can legally require you to get tested for COVID-19” article

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 at 3:43 pm    

Attorney Kirby Farris was quoted in a June 29th, 2020 article on WBRC about whether or not employers can legally require employees to take a conronavirus test.

To see his full remarks, click here.

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