On average people spend more than 3 hours a day looking at the screens of their smartphones, says Rescue Time. And millions and millions of people spend their work hours staring at computer monitors. Then at home they relax by… watching TV or playing video games and chatting with friends. So, more screen time, yay.
While all of this may seem bad just for our eyes (although even that is quite a worrying reason) overuse of technology can be bad for your wellbeing as a whole. As with anything in life, balance is important. Before you know it, your screen time might become an addiction and/or lead to issues in your personal life. Or at the very least it can worsen your physical condition which is vital for your overall quality of life.
What’s a tech detox?
IT companies are starting to realize that all of this is an issue. So, they have started to introduce “Wellness” features to their products. While this is a step in the right direction, it’s not quite enough. These features are merely to give you an idea of just how much you use your device and maybe try to limit that usage at least at certain times.
These days “detox” initiatives of all sorts are very popular. This includes tech detox, too. There are a lot of “tech detox programs” out there. Most claim big success if you “force yourself” to go through with them. While that sounds a bit like the weight loss spam emails, there are some valid points in these tech detox initiatives.
A typical tech detox program includes:
- Complete disconnection from social media and mobile apps
- Severe limitations for email, chat apps, phone calls – basically only for work purposes or for emergencies if you’re on holiday, for example.
- Severe limitations for digital multimedia, i.e. little to no video games, movies, TV.
- Spending more time outside either with family, friends or working out.
- Trying to create new healthy habits.
- Finding new digital-free hobbies.
Is it worth it?
All of this sounds fine, but there’s a problem. Most tech detox programs are more like challenges. You have to “battle it out” for a week, 10 days or even a month. The end goal is to return to the digital world refreshed, with a clearer mind and limited usage.
That rarely happens. In most cases, people just jump straight back into the deep end of the digital pool. It’s basically like being on a diet and then start eating as you did before and expecting that this time you will keep your weight. You won’t.
So, what to do?
That being said, a tech detox isn’t necessarily a bad or a pointless thing to do. There are plenty of positives to come out from such a program. You just have to change your approach to it.
Instead of looking for a “tech detox”, look at how to change your typical daily routine and digital usage. Use those “Wellness” apps for a few days to get a clearer picture of just how much time you’re spending with various apps.
Then look back at your typical days and see what you can change about them. It’s the small details that can make a big difference.
For example, stop doing the “one last quick glance” at your social media after you’ve already gone to bed. Even if you are really doing just a quick glance, then you can go without it anyway. This minute or so you will save, will repay itself in better, more relaxed sleep. Experience shows that it is way easier to fall asleep when you don’t use your phone after you go to bed.
If you take a look at your daily routine, you will find lots of other similar moments where you can go without actually using any digital device or product. For example, not browsing social media as you eat. All of a sudden you will find yourself with some extra time on your hands as if by magic. And when you reorganize your time, your stress levels will drop and… well, we know all the benefits that will come from that.
In short, there are definitely benefits to lowering your digital usage, but in order to actually enjoy them in the long term you have to make sure your lifestyle accommodates them all the time, not just for a “detox” once in a while.