What is a digital detox?

A digital detox is taking a break from using electronic devices or certain media for a period is known as a digital detox. Different people may avoid different things during their digital detox, such as checking email and social media accounts.

Research has shown that digital consumption is a huge part of our everyday lives, through our tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc. The Pew Research Center regularly conducts large-scale sample size research across the world and their 2017 research estimates that across 39 countries, a median of 75% of adults surveyed use the internet. Another study that tracked smartphone usage over two weeks (29 participants aged 18-33) found that they spent approximately 5.05 hours a day using their phones and checked their phones on average 85 times a day2.

What does a digital detox do?

The potential impacts of spending so much time online can be quite harmful to our mental well-being. It can result in a sense of isolation, an expectation of instant gratification, and deficits in social skills. We may begin to show signs of obsession and compulsion, addiction, or attention deficit. These impacts are correlated with the need to check for messages, a desire to show your most glamorous side of life and experiencing things like phantom vibrations. We also can’t forget physical problems that may occur, such as vision loss, hearing loss, neck strain and sitting too much.

A study found that 70% of participants checked social media on their phones while in bed, with 15% spending an hour or more on social media while in bed. With all these possible harmful effects, it can be useful to engage in digital detoxing or “unplugging” from our online lives.

Digital detoxes can help you explore how technology impacts your life. Unplugging for even a few days can have far-reaching results, from being more productive at work to deepening your relationships with family and friends.

How do I detox myself from my phone?

1) “Unplug” for 24 hours

Avoid the use of your phone for one day, perhaps arranging a day out with friends/family to keep you connected to the real world.

2) Be present with friends and family

Put away your device when you’re engaging with others in the real world and talk to the people in front of you. Real-time conversation allows us to notice peoples’ facial expressions and tone of voice which can often be misread through a message.

3) Keep work and home life separate

When you’ve left the workplace, make a conscious effort not to respond to work-related messages until you’re back in the office. This will help you be more present at home with your friends or family.

4) Switch off push notifications

Constant buzzing or pings from notifications are distracting and keep us constantly linked to our devices. Turning off push notifications reduces feelings of having to respond to something immediately.

5) Adjust your blue light

Devices have a Night Mode which will adjust your screen’s blue light to a more relaxing colour tone. Blue light can mess up your circadian rhythm and hormone cycles making it more difficult to fall asleep.

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