Do you need a digital detox?
How to find balance between screen time and you time.
If someone were to send you to a deserted island with just the bare necessities and leave you there for a week, how would you feel? Depending on your current situation, you may think it sounds relaxing, but to others it may sound like a literal nightmare.
The suggestion of a tech fast or a digital detox may elicit similar emotions. You may feel like a break from all the clutter and buzz of emails, apps, updates, and notifications sounds heavenly. Alternatively, it may bring out an animalistic rage. ‘What? I can’t even take a phone call?’.
Over the last twenty plus years, our connection to being connected has blossomed into a warped beast akin to some kind of unseemly tumor. And, since the advent of social media, this need to be connected has turned into an actual addition. Many of us may joke around and say we’re addicted to social media, but psychologists estimate that 5-10% of Americans meet the criteria of a genuine social media addiction. The addictioncenter.com defines social media addiction as the following:
“Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction that is characterized as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas.”
Whether you have a serious addiction to social media or not, it’s safe to say the vast majority of us have become dependent upon something that didn’t even exist when many of us were born.
Now add that social media fix into the barrage of emails, text messages, online meetings and video conferences, and it’s safe to say you’ll more than likely surpass a healthy dose of screen time before noon. Researchers estimate that the average North American adult spends 11 hours in front of a screen, which is up from 9 hours and 32 minutes just four years ago.
It goes without saying that screens are next door to unavoidable into today’s society. And, in defence of technology, so many deeply important things we take for granted in our day to day life would be impossible without technology and screen time, such as successfully conducting an online business, staying in communication with loved ones, and connecting and collaborating with different people from around the world.
Screen time isn’t always bad, but, for many of us, it crosses the line into excess on the regular. And, this excess can result in some scary side effects including:
- Weight gain,
- Decreased cognitive function,
And, one lovely study also showed that it can also increase your immortality risk by lowering your cardiovascular health. AWESOME!
So, with this necessary (evil) so interwoven into our lives, what can we do to find that happy medium between need and want, and prevent the potential damage of excess?
If you work in front of a screen it may be hard to drastically cut back on your screen time, but just like you do (or would do) for your children, you can set limits for yourself. Try keeping your phone on airplane mode between 8pm and 8am. Try committing to two nights a week without watching TV. Try setting a limit to the amount of times you check your email or social media throughout a day.
Give blue light glasses a try:
Blue light glasses are eye wear that have filters in the lenses that help protect against blue light by blocking or absorbing the light. These glasses are especially helpful at night as blue light has been known to disrupt sleep hormones, though they are beneficial for use all day and help prevent eye strain.
Finally, let’s talk about diving into a tech fast or digital detox. Pick one day a week to shut it all down. Keep your phone on airplane mode, hide your laptop, lock your office door, unplug your TV and get outside. Weekends are generally the best time to do this to avoid missing important work-related communications. Tell your friends and family ahead of time, so you don’t need to stress about people worrying about you, or being badgered with mindless messages. Use this day to get outside! Go for long walks, cook great meals, and try playing games or reading a book for entertainment. Even just one day can feel like a reset.
STUNN cofounders Ash and Jordan DePass recently did a tech fast, and though it felt a bit out of body for them to start, they both felt they got something out of it.
“I kept thinking – oh I should message soandso, or oh I should look that up on Google. I also kept wanting to check my email and Instagram all day. There was a part of me that was worried there may be some catastrophe that would need my attention, but when I checked my phone and computer the next day, I saw that I hadn’t missed much.” – Ash DePass