Do You Need A Digital Detox?

Do You Need A Digital Detox?

By Madelyn Collins

Pursuing a journalism and electronic media major at the University of Tennessee. Teach and perform dance on the side as a living.

Increasing studies show the multiple health risks to staying connected to the digital world. Learn how the simple act of putting your cell phone down can make you happier.

Do you ever think how many times a day you check your phone? Whether it’s a text, a notification, or just to open the home screen and waste time?  A study by Qualtrics and Accel found that young people check their phones up to 150 times per day. Another study done by Common Sense Media reported teens spend an average of 9 hours a day using media. Many people are beginning to see the hold the digital world has on us and the mental and physical health risks that can come from it. Unplugging from technology can be as vital as diet and exercise to live a healthy life.

There are many reasons you should consider doing a digital detox. The negative side effect of technology is an exhausting list. Studies show being digitally connected can make us lonelier. People who frequently use the Internet have a dwindling social circle and are at a greater risk for depression and loneliness. 

Experts say dependence on the digital world can take a toll on our physical health too. The overuse of digital media can lead to sleep deprivation, weight gain, and make it harder for your mind to concentrate on one task. Technology can be damaging yet in a TIME magazine study, 84% of people worldwide said, “they would not be able to get through a single day without their mobile device.” 

Why are we so addicted?

It is clear technology can harm us so why do we continue to overuse it? Orianna Fielding, the author of “The Essential Digital Detox Plan”, went into some reasons why people can’t seem to unplug. She describes how the digital connection we have in our current society gives us a form of reassurance. We can take our digital life everywhere, no matter where we are. Nevertheless, Fielding believes this experience is like “eating fast food, which delivers a lot of calories that temporarily makes us full, but ultimately does not deliver any real nutrition.” The digital world cannot satisfy a need for a real connection. A digital detox can help us avoid a digital overloaded.     

How do we detox?

In Fielding’s book, she gives plenty of ways to do some digital cleansing. Here are 5 of the ways you can jumpstart your digital detox plan today. 

1. Schedule digital-free times – Make time in your day to unplug. Use a calendar, planner, or set an alarm on your phone. During this time hide the technology and live in the real world. Maybe start off small with an hour. When you feel comfortable start unplugging for longer than an hour. Work up to a weekend digital detox or a vacation with no technology. Fill this new free time with activities. Start up a new hobby like yoga or pick up a book. Activities like these make you feel happier and healthier. 

2. Designate digital-free zones - It’s easier to do a digital cleanse when you cannot see the technology. Create digital-free spaces in your hone you feel are problem zones. If your bedroom is a place you are constantly using technology put it somewhere else. Replace your phone with an old-fashioned alarm clock so it won’t disturb your sleep. The dinner table can be a great digital-free zone too! Take the time to focus on eating and enjoy the meal. Giving yourself these digital-free spaces will encourage you to live in the real world.

3. Sign up for detox retreats – If you think you cannot manage a detox yourself, enlist for help! Plenty of retreats offer all ages a chance to unplug. A quick Google search for digital detox retreats will show you camps, trips, and programs offered year round to help combat digital addiction. These programs are excellent ways to get a structured and effective digital detox. 

4. Use apps – Everyday developers create apps to manage digital overload. Moment is an IOS and Android app that tracks your phone usage throughout the day. Use the app to set limits and it will notify you if you go over. Another great app to try is Focus Lock. This app blocks all distractions and notifications that might interrupt your digital detox. 

5. Clean up social media – Don’t get into online debates with social media archenemies! Delete them instead. Many studies have shown seeing pessimistic activity on your timeline can cause real mental health problems. Go through your social media and delete or block people and pages who make you feel upset or uncomfortable. Deleting these will help you avoid feelings of anxiety and stress in the future.     

When it’s time to plug back into the digital world this detox will leave you feeling refreshed and aware of the real world.

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