Are you the one who needs to post good night and good morning every day on social media? Are you posting your selfies every hour? Do you feel that your life has been sucked out of you if your Smartphone has been snatched out of your hands even for ten minutes? Do not worry! You are not exclusive here. Today, the definition of life is to be constantly plugged in! The level has risen to such an alarming extent that it is now considered a pollutant in our life and remedial measures are being looked into! This made online Oxford Dictionary, add a new vocabulary last year, “Digital Detox”! Here, we would look into the kaleidoscope of the term. Stay hooked!
What is Digital Detox?
Going by definition, digital detox refers to that time period during which you withdraw from all kinds of electronic gadget and devices and discover back the life when the technology and gadgets were not an extension of you, the way they are today. The addiction to technology has risen to such a level that it has become a subject of intense study and various stats and its harmful effects are being published every day!
Why a Digital Detox?
If you think, we are asking you to completely shun technology, let me tell you that it is not so. Technology definitely has its advantages and we can’t help but appreciate it. However, on the flip side, it has increasingly dominated our social interactions. It is a well-known adage that excess of anything is bad. The same holds true for excess addiction to the internet. Various surveys and research conducted especially in the UK have presented us with some shocking facts like:-
- On an average, a person checks his phone 200 times a day i.e. checking after every six and half minutes.
- An average Brit spends about 8 hours and 41 minutes a day on the screen of various electronics which is more than the time spent on sleeping. Even the children screen time is six and half hours per day.
- The average time spent on social media is 1.72 hours a day.
- A 2016 study shows that we tap, swipe or click our various electronic devices about 2,617 times a day.
- 69% of children complain of their parents spending more time with their mobile devices than with them.
- Over 50% of adults admit to being completely hooked to their Smartphones.
- 80% of Smartphone users admit to checking their phone as soon as they get up.
- 62% of polled UK adults admit to detesting the time they spend on their phone.
- Various studies have also established a strong link between heavy mental illness and depression and digital addiction.
These are just some of the stats which force us to sit up and take notice. The various harmful effects of digital addiction are fast getting established and thus arises the need to get the balance back via a digital detox. Some of the established harmful effects of digital addiction are:-
- Deterioration of Relationships
If you look at relationships today, it has come down to texting via Emojis. Most relationships are through text messages and social media. Actual human interaction is fast fading even though people may reside in the same house. We have forgotten to enjoy the human company. This has not only caused a strain in all aspects of our human relationships but has also affected our mental balance and happiness level.
- Negative impact on parenting
The most concerning effect has been on parenting. Today, an increasing number of children are being handed over a tab or a Smartphone to browse children videos and spend time on it. This has also made us turn into harsher parents. We are more irritated with the child for trying to attract the attention from our Smartphone and are harsher in our behavior towards the innocent soul. Likewise, the child is not developing the traits of caring for another human being. Consequently, we are raising emotionally barren children which are again triggering dangerous risks and problems ahead. Is it any wonder that humanity and goodness of heart are on the decline?
- Mental Stress and Anxiety
Internet addiction has gradually led to the isolation of the people. This has not only affected his physical health but also his brain chemistry. The addiction is making him lose his self-identity and real connection with life. Further research has pointed out that internet abuse changes the pattern of neural circulatory that reduces a person’s ability for self-modulation, decreases his concentration and focus, lessens his aptitude for maintaining long-term goals, and increases depression signs which increase risk of drug abuse etc. The list is endless.
- Dangerous impact of social media on vulnerable minds / Rise in cyber crime
While none can deny the positive impact of the social media, its dangerous side is also getting manifested every day. If you are a regular follower of news, you would know just how many impressionable teenagers has been heavily influenced by terrorists using Facebook, Twitter, and even Whats App and used as a guinea pig to meet their selfish and dangerous aims. This is perhaps its most dangerous implication. Another craze on Facebook is posting pictures. With Facebook extremely easy to hack, even your personal settings do not deter criminals from downloading your pictures and exploiting it unethically. Cyber stalking is also extremely common which has often proved to be life threatening as well. If we look at its not so dangerous effect, the messaging on Facebook, Whats App etc. have taken a heavy toll on the language development. The new internet lingo and abbreviations have led to a serious cultural decline. Continual typing has led to many neuromuscular diseases in children of quite a young age including teenagers and below. Even the eyesight has taken a hot and many kids get prescribed with vision glasses at an extremely young age.
How can Digital Detox Change your Life?
While we can neither shun technology nor deny its numerous advantages, health experts strongly recommend cutting off completely from technology for a limited period of time on a regular basis to retain both mental and physical health. You can always reconnect back with technology after the detox but you would find yourself using it in a much more judicious and responsible manner and be a more happy person from inside. Some of its major benefits are:-
Experiencing Real Peace
You may not realize but the constant need to check your phone or be on alert for a beep sound of a message or alert does not give a single moment of peace to your brain. Consequently, you too are on edge. When this gets blocked, you experience a peace and relaxation that even you did not realize was missing. This puts your brain at rest and lends you an inner peace and calm. This goes a long way in de-stressing you in the real sense of the word.
Reconnect Back with Friends and Family
With electronics no longer monopolizing your time and attention, you are free to spend quality time with your friends and family. This helps strengthen the bonding with all and form real relationships with your spouse, children and even friends. Try going out for dinner without any electronics. You would be amazed at just how enjoyable and memorable the experience would turn out to be.
Become More Present and Mindful
No matter where you live, there are always plenty of beautiful things surrounding you that you can appreciate. Getting disconnected from technology makes you ready to notice things around you and truly appreciate them. You are able to focus more on both your inner self and outer environment and become more purposeful and action oriented. This helps you get a sense of purpose as well as an achievement which works wonders for your self-confidence and self-esteem. This also keeps depression and all other negative emotions disappear.
Increased Work Productivity
Without the pull of social media and Smartphone, a person tends to get more active and throws himself more wholeheartedly into the job at hand. This makes him do a more successful job with greater focus. He also is more active which makes him a healthier individual.
Numerous Health Benefits
One of the major psychological distresses of the high-tech gadgets is disruption of sleep pattern. Lack of a good sleep leads to numerous health problems. A digital detox helps to get a sound and fitful sleep which makes all body functioning better. You are able to eat better, are more active and give yourself more exercise, binge eating due to multi-tasking gets averted, distress and anxiety disappear and various other positive health benefits ensue.
- This ultimately a digital detox leads to a better physical and mental health person with greater social skills and relationships with another human being. Basically, you learn back how to be a human.
How to Digital Detox?
Now that we understand digital detox and its various benefits, the next step is how to actually do it. How do you start? Below mentioned are few tips to help you get started to getting unplugged:-
- Make a Gadget List
Before you even get initiated into digital detox, make a list of all your gadgets that have become synonymous with you. This will help you gain insight into just how dependent on technology you have become. Simultaneously, try making a list of things that you love or had wished that you could do. This will give you an agenda during your digital detox period and save you from feeling at a loss.
- Set a Goal for Yourself
It is always advisable not to plunge directly into digital detox but slowly ease into it. You should always start small like making it your goal not to be connected to your TV, mobile, music system etc. while you are eating or during the family dinner time. This helps you get quality time with your family, helps you eat better but also does not make you feel digitally deprived. Slowly, you can increase the span of digital detox period. The very seriously addicted person can start with as low a time as 30 minutes. Ideal goal to reach it is 24-72 hours at a stretch.
- Pre-broadcast your Digital Detox
There is bound to be panic and warning bells going around if a digitally addicted person cannot be reached for even half an hour. Even in you, it will give rise to a fear of missing out on something vital. Pre-broadcasting your detox session will put every mind including you at ease. You can also set up a way in which you could be communicated in times of emergency.
- Be Prepared for Withdrawal Symptoms
For all its worth, getting into digital detox is not an easy job. You will have continual itch and cravings to reach for your Smartphone, tab, laptop etc. It will also make you moody, angry depressed and all kinds of negative emotions initially. The tech gadgets may be out of sight but they will certainly not go out of mind. Be forgiving to yourself and accept it as a phase. The cravings will decrease gradually.
- Get Help if Required
Seeking help from your friends, partner, family etc. is always a good idea. They would help you get back to entertaining yourself without the screen light. Spending fun time with them will make you miss the gadgets less. Gradually, you would start looking to these times. You can also start communicating in the good old-fashioned way of pen and paper. Meditation is another great item to get habituated to during this time. Get back to reading from hard papers. Before you know it, boredom will be a thing of past!!
- Make it Count
Remember, the whole purpose of digital detox is to realize what you are missing and making your life richer by getting it back! Create time for socializing in person! Take a day trip or for a family weekend getaway! Do something that will forever remain imprinted on our memory and does not need the proof of a photograph!
Hope this was an enjoyable and enlightening for you to read as it was for us to write. Did you get started with the digital detox! What were your experiences and challenges with it! How did it leave you feeling! Do share your views in it with us!