The Truth about Digital Detox
They tried to make me go to rehab, but I just ‘scroll, scroll, scroll.’
The Truth about Digital Detox. The Digital World offers people the opportunity to connect with others as well as being immersed in a world where anything is accessible. This level of connectedness does have some benefits; for example, it’s easier to stay in touch with friends and family and you can express yourself on social media.
However, it can have some serious negative drawbacks.
According to research from the Nielsen Company, the average U.S. adult spends around 11 hours each day listening to, watching, reading, or interacting with media. Technology is everywhere; so whether it is scrolling through pictures on Instagram or snapping selfies on Snapchat with an abundance of filters to choose from, at times, it feels unavoidable.
So what is a Digital Detox?
Digital detox refers to a period of time when a person refrains from using technological devices; this includes smartphones, televisions, computers, tablets, and social media sites. The aim of a digital detox is for people to let go of the stress of technology, even if it is temporary. ‘Detoxing’ from digital devices can be seen as a way for people to remove all distractions and focus on real-life social interactions.
While ‘technology addiction’ is not recognized as a disorder in the DSM-5, experts believe that tech and device overuse represents a real behavioural addiction that can lead to physical, psychological, and social problems (Cherry, 2020).
Reasons for a digital detox: What does the research say?
Technology can be stressful
It may be hard to imagine life without your electronic devices especially when you are tempted to check emails, texts and social media constantly. Technology comes with its own stressors; sometimes it doesn’t work which can cause stress especially when meetings and remote workload are reliant on the use of technology. One study conducted by researchers in Sweden found that heavy technology use among young adults was linked to sleeping problems, depressive symptoms, and increased stress levels.
Digital devices can disrupt sleep
One study found that children who use digital devices at bedtime had significantly worse and less sleep. Researchers have also found that in-bed electronic social media use has adverse effects on both sleep and mood. The 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. Overall, researchers found that using social media when you are in bed at night increases the likelihood of anxiety, insomnia, and shorter sleep duration.
The frequency of the device use can have an impact on mental health
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently published the first experimental research linking the use of social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to decreased well-being. The results revealed that limiting social media use decreased symptoms of depression and loneliness. More time spent using digital technologies was linked to increased symptoms of ADHD and conduct disorder, as well as decreased self-regulation.
It can have an impact on your physical wellbeing.
Then there are the potential physical effects of being “always on,” from neck pain (and wrinkles) to elevated blood pressure (Freidman, 2018).
It can affect work/life balance
In a study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, researchers found that technology use played a role in determining an individual’s work-life balance. The study revealed that the use of the internet and mobile technologies influenced overall job satisfaction, job stress, and feelings of being overworked. Doing a digital detox may help you establish a healthier, less stressful work-life balance.
Comparison impacts our ability to be content
It is easy to compare to your own life to the people you see on social media. People rarely post ‘the bad’, so just remember that what you see on social media isn’t necessarily the truth; you are seeing a snapshot of what they want you to see. As the saying goes, comparison really can be the thief of joy. Detoxing from your social connections can be a good way to focus on what’s important in your own life without comparing yourself to others.
Digital Connectivity Can Make You Feel Like You’re Missing Out
FOMO (or Fear of Missing Out) is the fear that you are missing the experiences that everyone else is having and being constantly connected can feed this fear. Doing a digital detox is one way to set limits and reduce your fear of missing out. The key is to do it in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling cut off from what’s happening in your digital world.
Signs You Might Need a Digital Detox
- You feel anxious or stressed out if you can’t find your phone.
- You feel compelled to check your phone every few minutes.
- You feel depressed, anxious, or angry after spending time on social media.
- You are preoccupied with the like, comment, or reshare counts on your social posts.
- You’re afraid that you’ll miss something if you don’t keep checking your device.
- You often find yourself staying up late or getting up early to play on your phone.
- You have trouble concentrating on one thing without having to check your phone.
How to do a digital detox:
- Turn off notifications.
- Put away devices during meal times, family time or quality time.
- Designate ‘tech free’ hours during the day.
- Limit yourself to one screen at a time – for example, do not have multiple devices working at the same time.
- Ask ‘why’ when you pull out your phone.
- Turn you phone off on an evening.
- Make the bedroom a ‘no tech zone’.
What are the benefits of a digital detox?
- Better posture
- Being more able to make significant changes in your life
- Develop deeper friendships/relationships with people
- Improved memory
- More efficient sleep
We hope that you found this article useful. If you or somebody you know, has issues relating to addiction or if you feel like your relationship is being affected because of technology or media, then please get in touch with My Family Psychologist. We have support tailor made for adults, teenagers, children, families and couples so don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how we can support you.
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Your Totally Manageable, 10-Step Guide to Doing a Digital Detox. (n.d.). Health.Com. Available at Health [Accessed 01 Sep, 2020].
5 Ways to Do a Digital Detox. (2020). Psychology Today. Available at Psychology Today [Accessed 01 Sep, 2020].