Get Digitally(Digital) Fit
Addicted to your phone? Here are some tips to stay away from the screen.
When did you last check your smartphone? Was it an hour ago? Or was it two hours ago? Chances are, it was just a couple of minutes ago. Research shows that urban Indian citizen gets restless if they do not check their phone every 15 minutes.
Typically, by this calculation, you would check your phone five times in one hour! We are becoming victims of severe screen addiction! The ill effects of this are seen amongst not just the youth but even middle-aged and older Indians across the country.
Today, one barely knows anyone who does not start and end their day by looking at their smartphone screen! What started about 15 years ago amongst the urban Indian elite as a network to keep in touch with friends has today become the biggest medium of communication and dissemination of information in our country.
Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram have become an inevitable part of our lives. Research shows that people are spending more time on social media every day than any other mass media including newspapers or television screens. In most cases, this takes up an average of four hours in the entire day. Social media and the digital world are the most powerful and effective media of communication not just in India but across the globe.
This results in many long-term social changes, some positive and some negative. When we look at the positive, we see that social media gave everyone the ability to create content. Today, text, photos, and videos are ruling the roost. Every phone is a camera, a writing machine and a device connected to the Internet. But, it is also causing problems – the key one being addiction and one’s inability to overcome it.
This is where digital detox comes into the picture.
What is Digital Detox?
Digital detox refers to a period when a person refrains from using tech devices such as smartphones, televisions, computers, tablets, and social media sites. ‘Detoxing’ from digital devices is often seen as a way to focus on real-life social interactions without distractions. By forgoing digital devices, at least temporarily, people can let go of the stress that stems from constant connectivity.
Evidence also suggests that heavy device use, particularly before bedtime, can interfere with sleep quality and quantity. 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 sleep and mood. A study found that 70% of participants checked their social media on their phones while in bed, with 15% spending an hour or more on social media while in bed. The results found that using social media when you are in bed at night increases the likelihood of anxiety, insomnia, and shorter sleep.
When Do You Need A Digital Detox?
It is now becoming essential to engage in a digital detox once every few months. How to figure out if you need a digital detox?
You need a digital detox if
1. You feel restless when you don’t check your phone for more than 20 minutes,
2. You feel anxious or depressed when you don’t have your phone with you,
3. You feel that you might miss something or fall behind if you don’t see the phone for a while.
These are clear signs of digital addiction and you may need an occasional digital detox to overcome this problem.
The Digital Detox Process
Detaching from your devices can benefit your mental well-being, but a digital detox does not have to involve complete separation from your phone and other tech connections. The process is often more about setting boundaries and making sure that you are using your devices in a way that benefits, rather than harms, your emotional and physical health.
If you can do a complete digital detox for a certain amount of time, it might be something you want to try. Being completely disconnected can feel liberating and refreshing for some people.
Go ahead and take this much-deserved break from the screen. You can set the time limit for your detox, perhaps three days to begin with, and then the next time it can be five or seven days.
Breathe in the fresh air, exercise, read books or any printed material. A digital detox does not mean you do not look at your phone or laptop screens at all during a particular period. You may need to look at the phone twice or thrice a day, which is fine. But just checking important messages or updates once for five minutes in the morning and evening should be all that you do with the phone. At the end of the detox period, you will feel rejuvenated and relaxed. Go ahead and try it out!
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» Rohit Chandavarkar
The author is a TV and print journalist.