This may not seem a perfect time to talk about Digital Detox, as all the business, education, and entertainment sectors are operating digitally. The pandemic has questioned the people’s basic survival, and they’ve come up with new methods to carry on with their lives through digital means.
Experts point out that the normalcy may take up to 2 years to return. So, we are looking at the Digital medium as a Panacea.
In my personal opinion, this is the perfect time we should discuss Digital Detox before we become so dependent on it. The line between work and life is thinning already.
How can we infuse detox into our routine when our employment has become digital based? Let’s analyze.
Why, Digital Detox?
We keep our body fit using yoga sessions or gym classes, or swimming. We check our BMI regularly to monitor our physical health and wellness. Even if we’ve put on a little weight, it is easier to see the changes visually.
On the other hand, mental health is not something we can check regularly. With the line between work and life blurring altogether, it is noticed that the mental health of the modern generation is under immense pressure.
A survey conducted in the US says 78% of the respondents check their digital devices every half an hour. Also, they spend around 11 hours a day interacting with the medium.
Our interaction with digital screens reduces our sleeping quality and quantity. Insomnia is becoming a severe illness to the present generation. Their sleeping time is decreasing. Stress levels are increasing.
Around 15% of the survey respondents say that they use social media for at least an hour in bed at night. Surprisingly many people are not even aware of the importance and necessity of digital detox.
The increased on-screen presence has drastically reduced our offline interaction with the people surrounding us. Even though we have a virtual presence, it alienates our social existence.
Even when we go out to have a good time with friends, we all pull up our mobile phones and interact with them more than with people.
Digital Detox – Psychological Perspective
1) Depression and Loneliness
The penetration of social media in our daily life is unimaginable. Scrolling down pages consumes large portions of our time and feeds our brains with unwanted thoughts.
It creates the illusion of a perfect world, and when we consume those data, it forces us to make a social comparison.
Comparison, in any sense, is not a sensible way to approach our life. We, humans, are all different, and we come from different places. But when we start to compare ourselves with others over a digital platform, there is no end to our satisfaction.
With the advent of social media, vanity is placed above one’s sanity.
The desire to stay ahead is forced upon ourselves. When we are not satisfied with our life, it automatically increases our stress. It introduces us to depression and loneliness.
2) Work/Life balance
The advancements in our technology have introduced us to concepts like ‘Work from home,’ ‘Remote work,’ and such. This facilitates us to work in the comfort of our home. It allows us to carry on even while we travel across the world.
But it also entered into our personal lives, and many of us don’t know how to manage them. The constant need to stay connected is affecting our balance.
Earlier, people used to take vacations to blow off steam. Now, we carry our work even during the holidays. It affects the quality of our time.
3) Fear of Missing out
During my initial days of digital detoxification, I’d turn off the mobile data. When I turn it on after 3 to 4 hours, I’d find my brother’s text asking about something important, a friend who hasn’t spoken in a long time would’ve messaged me asking for some directions.
At that time, I’ve even questioned the necessity of digital detox. What if I miss out on something? What if something crucial happens in the meantime?
Human beings tend to imagine the worst possibilities. We tend to overestimate emergencies. That’s the reason we give to ourselves to avoid separating us from the digital medium.
Sometimes we may miss out on something. But if it is urgent, the concerned member would call us to give the information. We should instruct our brains not to look at our phones every once in a while.
What can we do to infuse Digital Detox into our routine?
1) Use a watch
Because we can use mobile phones, nowadays we don’t use our wristwatches.
What happens when you look at your phone for the time?
We don’t stop there. We check whether we have any notifications. If there is any notification, we attend to it. This doesn’t stop here. One thing leads to another, and voila, we’ve spent 20-30 minutes in the process.
I’ve seen people who wore wristwatches look at their mobile phones for the time.
This is where we should infuse a small change. Use your wristwatches. Try to use them instead of your mobile phones.
Our digital devices have improved so much. Earlier, when we get any notification, we’ve to go to the specific application.
But now we can access them, reply to them from our home screen itself.
This is a handy feature. There is no denying it. But it also makes us use it all the time, which in turn increases our screen time.
Take a good time to understand how notification settings work on your device. You don’t need to be immediately informed about every little thing that happens on your mobile.
Categorize what are emergency notifications and disable the rest of them. So, they won’t disturb you
3) Signing in – My go-to method for Digital Detox
A friend of mine uses a long random password (30+ characters) for his social media accounts.
When I asked him about it, he said, ‘Whenever I want to sign in to my profile, typing this random password is an irritable thing. Most of the time halfway through typing passwords, I change my mind and go to do something useful.’
He created this random password to keep his screen time under check.
You can implement this. But there is an issue here.
People use a specific application for their social media accounts. The applications don’t ask us to sign in every time. To rectify this, I came up with an alternate solution for myself.
I deleted all the applications. Whenever I want to use them, I access them through my browser. I’ve changed my mobile browser settings not to save any sign-in information.
This is an effective solution. To access my accounts, I’ve to use my browser and type in the 30+characters password. Like my friend said, ‘it is an irritable thing.’
4) Tracking our Usage
This is an effective way to reduce screen time. Before you decide to detox, take a few days to track your regular usage.
Many applications are available. You can try any of them but be honest with them.
What is the specific application you heavily use?
What is the need for that application?
If you play games on your devices, track the duration whenever you play. Even when you’re an amateur gamer, don’t shy away to record your consumption.
Some people use mobile phones as a secondary companion. They’d use them to listen to songs while doing some other work. Record those incidents too.
You should have a clear, precise, detailed record of your usage before you begin your detox.
It’ll come in handy when you compare your usage after reducing your digital presence. It’ll encourage you to experiment more.
This would be the most challenging step to practice. But the most effective one too.
Pick a day and say No to your devices on that day. To avoid disruptions in your work, you can choose Saturday or Sunday. Also, inform this decision to your family and close friends. You’d need their support to make it a device-free day.
6) Ask yourself
Whenever you want to ask your digital devices, question yourself about the need. If it is a necessity, use it.
When someone else asks, we will lie. But when we question ourselves, we’d try to be honest about our needs. Buy a piggy bank and put some money into it if you break your rules. Ask someone else to look after the piggy bank so that you’ll behave.
It’s been scientifically proven that the reduction in our digital consumption drastically reduces our stress levels. It increases our sleep quality. Develop a new offline hobby or improve your current hobby. Keep reminding yourself to monitor your online presence to practice digital detox consistently.
Some people think it is difficult to leave our devices even for a little time. Yes, it isn’t easy to practice. If I have to show my thoughts to others, I rely on digital platforms. If I want to reach many people, I depend on digital platforms. If you want to access these ideas, you need devices. This is our current situation. These platforms are created to improve human convenience and comfort. It should unite people. If we handle this properly, we can own the digital world. If not, they will own us.
Be mindful of practicing digital detox. To know more about mindfulness, read this article here.