Digital Detox: What is it & Do I Need?

Digital detox refers to the practice of disconnecting ourselves from technology & digital devices like smartphones, televisions, etc, in order to improve our physical & emotional well-being.

Life without technology today seems pointless – we are surrounded by devices that make our life really easier & faster.

This change has connected us primarily with the internet & internet-based products like social media platforms, entertainment apps & many more.

The average time we spend on social media is increasing – and it’s an ongoing trend.

The abundance of technology in our daily life, in many ways, is affecting us both mentally & physically – one example is the screen devices like smartphones & televisions – they omit harmful effects on our eyes & may disrupt a good night’s sleep.

According to one research carried out by the University of Gothenburg, to examine links between mobile phone usage & mental health from a psychological or behavioral perspective concluded that:

There are associations between frequent mobile phone use and mental health outcomes, such as depressive symptoms and sleep problems.

Mobile phone use at bedtime was associated with, e.g., shorter sleep duration and lower sleep quality. “Problematic use” (dependency) was associated with several negative outcomes.

Sara Thomée, the head researcher of this study said “Public health advice should therefore include information on the healthy use of  technology.”

So is there something we can do to protect our health from the harmful effects of daily Technology use? Quite simply, disconnect from digital devices – aka digital detoxification.

What is Digital Detox?

Digital Detox refers to the period of time when a person refrains from using everyday technology devices like smartphones & computers – so as to focus on other parts of life.

Do I Need a Digital Detox?

Below are some signs indicating you might need a digital detox:

–          You’re a constant phone checker:

–          You spend too much time scrolling on social media

–          Social media alters your mood: you might feel anxious, sad, or angry after viewing some posts, critics, or anything else on it

–          You cannot concentrate on something, without checking your phone.

–          You stay up too late or wake up too early because of phone usage (especially social media)

Why Should You Consider Doing A Digital Detox?

Technology Causes Stress

Technology is now deeply rooted in our daily lives that it has the potential to affect us mentally – causing stress

When was the last time you freaked out because of technology?

Was it the Internet not working? Or a website is not loading.

Or maybe the call isn’t connecting & you wish to throw your device miles away; 😛

There are pretty much good number of researches I can show you,

According to one survey of 2017 named “Stress in America, Coping with Change”, carried out by American Psychological Association (APA)

Nearly one-fifth of Americans (18 percent) identify the use of technology as a very or somewhat significant source of stress.

20% of Americans said technology causes the most stress when it doesn’t work.

Whilst there can be many stress triggers that come along with technology, we can avoid these events by avoiding the tech of course, or say, a digital detox would help.

Social Media & Digital Devices Surrounding You May Disrupt Your Sleep

Sleep is fundamental to the optimal functioning of our brain & body.

In-bed smartphone & laptop usage is very common nowadays & there are many studies that show heavy device usage around bedtime hours can disrupt sleep quality & quantity.

In one study that was focused on examining the bedtime usage of technology & how it impacts sleeping problems amongst children, it was concluded that

Using any device at bedtime was associated with a statically significant increased use of multiple forms of technology at bedtime and use in the middle of the night, reducing sleep quantity and quality.

Moreover, this same study also found some significant links between bedtime technology use & increased body mass index.

Another study stated that users with high in-bed social media users are more likely to have insomnia, anxiety, and short sleep duration on weeknights, but not depression or daytime sleepiness;

It could also be the social media that’s changing your mood – making it hard to sleep.

There are many other studies that show smartphone usage around bedtime is associated with sleep and mood dysfunction.

It is suggested by many mental health experts that the limitation of smartphone usage around bedtime is a potential intervention strategy for sleeping problems.

Technology Use is feeding the F.O.M.O inside you

The fear of missing out can elevate a depressive mood inside you, it could also tense you or make you upset.

Our constant connectivity with the digital devices –  particularly communication connectivity like social media, emails, etc – have already fed this fear inside us:

–          You just checked John is experiencing beautiful weekends on the hillside whilst you’re still busy winding up within your personal matters in life

–          Gracy is constantly checking her phone in fear that she may miss an important text or call.

In many other ways, technology alters our emotional being when it is cut off from our life, for even a few minutes.

Many times, it creates us think that our life is boring whilst all others are enjoying – but this is not the case & it’s just the social media posts that make you think so.

Online Social Networking & Mental Health

During the past several years, the internet – and social media to be specific – has significantly changed the way we communicate & interact.

Although there is no clear research on how social media & these changes might affect a human, there are several surveys & studies that indicate the prolonged changes

Researchers & social critics are debating whether the Internet is improving or harming participation in community life and social relationships.

How to do Digital Detox?

1. Set Limits, Be Realistic & Use Technology Only When Required

Whilst the practice of digital detoxification may rejuvenate some people, it’s not realistically possible for many to disconnect from digital devices completely – Technology is a necessity for most of us & so it’s really tough

Does that mean Digital Detox is not for everyone?

NO! Everyone can go for a digital detox.

Digital Detox can also be seen as cutting down unnecessary technology use whenever possible.

So if you’re a working professional or someone who cannot disconnect completely – try doing a mini-detox at the end of the day & use technology only with purpose throughout the day.

If you’re setting some technology-free hours for every day, be realistic with the schedule. 

2. Get Involved In Some Paper  Media

Physical print media like Newspapers, Magazines, Books/Novels, etc are a great way to distract yourself from digital devices.

Undergoing digital detox with the help of physical print media would not only protect you from the ill factors of technology but also sharpen your skills in many ways – reading books stimulates complex structures of our brain & is considered a good brain health exercise.

Read More:

3. Disconnect From TV or Smart Phone one hour before you go to bed

As mentioned above in this article, smartphones – especially social media – significantly disrupts your sleep quality & quantity.

It is recommended that you recall the meaning of bedroom – to peacefully rest – and keep the bedroom tech-free as much as possible.

Avoid using smartphones when in bed & enjoy paper media – reading prior to bedtime can help you get a good night’s sleep.

Also, keep in mind that heavy TV watching before bedtime also contributes to disruption in sleep.

4. Avoid Using Smartphone While Eating

It’s a common sight nowadays, using phones while eating. Not only the smartphone can contaminate your food, but it has numerous other disadvantages like

  • You may end up not chewing your meal properly
  • It may impact your food intake & choices
  • It distracts our mind from reaching a proper appetite resulting in poor metabolism

On top of everything, smartphone usage while eating won’t let you enjoy the real flavor of food, and when your phone is kept next to your eating plate, you’re not fully present at the table & one notification can distract you away. 

Yet not convinced with this point? Wait for that glass of water or gravy splashing all over your phone. Nothing kills a phone faster than water. LOL. 

5. Don’t Be A Constant Phone Checker

The avid social media & technology usage has paved the way for “constant checkers” in our society – those who check their smartphone constantly, for emails, calls, or social media.

Constant phone usage is significantly associated with higher stress levels. As per one survey study by American Psychological Association, it was found that constant checkers express feeling disconnected from their family, even when they are together, as a result of technology.

In addition to feeling disconnected, more than 36% of constant checkers of this survey reported being less likely to meet with family and friends in person because of social media.

The same survey suggests that more than eight in 10 Americans are attached to their gadgets on a typical day (86 percent say they constantly or often check their emails, texts, and social media accounts).

6. Track Your Phone Usage Hours

Smartphones are a necessity & you can’t avoid them for long. So why not use technology for its advantage? 

You can keep a check on your digital detox journey by tracking the amount of time you spend on your phone. 

The Moment Mobile Application, for example, helps you set daily phone usage limits & lets you track how often you use your phone.

Keeping track of your phone usage hours keeps you aware of your tech usage & reminds you of your digital detox journey all the way.

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