Experts believe that it is mandatory to reduce exposure to digital technology.
You open an app on your smartphone to clear a notification and the next thing you know you are doing is scrolling through the social media and stalking what people are actually up to. And then an hour later, you realize you were just clearing the notifications.
This digital time drain is real. Having our phones, laptops, smart watches and tablets constantly within our reach has made us hyper connected and overly distracted. We feel attached to the people and lives on our phones, but disconnected from our real life storylines.
No matter where you look, people are disengaged from the moment and instead staring at a device, and this is causing family issues, work issues and what not as we become more disconnected from each other. These are the classic signs of addiction.
The social media in particular is addictive given the validation factor. Getting likes on pictures or follows on newsfeeds validates our existence similar to someone smiling at you in real life. Being acknowledged makes us feel good and due to constant availability of social media, this validation is available at our fingertips.
The push to disconnect
It might be hard to remember a time without smartphone, but keep in mind that iPhone is only a decade old. The internet is only 25 years old. There was a time cell phones 15 years ago were only used for SMS messages and make calls and connecting to people 4,000 miles away with the click of a button.
In the course of human history our digital addiction is new. Some tech companies are motivating their employees to take a digital Sabbath, a day or a few hours wherein they completely unplug and reconnect with a non-digital reality.
How to do a digital detox?
The time and the attention are two greatest resources.
- Leave the phone behind
Try tuning the phone or tablet on airplane mode or leaving it in another room while you’re working or playing with the kids. A few hours without the phone and the constant urge to check can help break the cycle.
- Stop the pings
Turn off all the notifications. Not having constant pings will not ruin the attention that help in reducing mental stress and made one feel more in control of the day. Schedule times in which you check technology like checking phone during the lunch break.
- Give yourself a curfew
Finding yourself spending an hour or two swiping through instagram or flipbook before bed. Set a phone or device cutoff time. After 9 p.m. the device goes into a drawer until one is ready to leave for the office the next day.
- Don’t wake up with your phone
If you check your phone first thing in the morning, break the habit by leaving it in another room when you go to bed. Invest in an alarm clock and don’t check your phone first hour after you wake up. But if you find an hour too long start with 15 minutes and work your way up.
- Establish tech-free zones
Create rules around events or places and enforce that with every family member or guest. The break may feel like a fight at first, but soon everyone will appreciate the opportunity to withdraw.
- Step away during the day
Take typical break in the middle of the day. Take a mini detox. Go for a walk or a run, keep phone on DND mode and shut your computer down.
- Reward yourself with tech-free times
Threat yourself to a new magazine or a few chapters of your favorite podcast. Take a hike and leave the phone behind. You can even unwind in the bathtub with your favorite tunes.
The bottom line
If the phone has become problematic, or if it feels like it has become an addiction, there are steps one can take to retrain themselves to use the phone in healthier ways.
Digital detox can be very effective at reclaiming a sense of control over your phone use.