People have practiced detoxification for centuries now. By following a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, water and sometimes herbs, teas, and supplements, people eliminated harmful toxins from their bodies and cleaned their blood. Although these detox diets are still extremely popular, these days another type of detox is in the center of attention. The growing popularity of digital detoxes is encouraged by claims that cutting down on tech use can help reduce stress and help people become more focused and compassionate. The fact is that in 2020 it is impossible to avoid technology and according to a study into screen-use time published in The Guardian, an average person checks their smartphone 39 times during the day.
However, in this day and age when technology helps us learn, work and communicate, is a digital detox really necessary?
New kind of tourism
Ever since the overuse of technology has been proclaimed harmful, so-called tech-free tourism has started to bloom. In a world where being contactable is almost necessary, going off-grid and taking a break from technology is not that easy. This is why tech-free tourism became suddenly very popular. There are even places that have no cell reception perfect for those who want to forget the pressures of their business or busy lifestyle. It's about enjoying outdoor and spending time in nature…
Is frequent use of technology really a problem?
Although many people claim that digital detoxes helped them be more present and focused, there is actually no scientific evidence that these detoxes have any benefits. In fact, going off the grid and giving up your devices entirely could have its own unintended negative consequences.
One of the reasons why digital detoxes have become the talk of the town these days is the misconception that technology is inherently harmful. Although studies link the overuse of tech devices with poorer sleep and higher levels of anxiety, they do not really prove that the use of social media really causes insomnia, anxiety or depression. Basically, it all comes down to the famous question – What is older, chicken or the egg? Are people having anxiety attacks because they are using their phones too much, or are they using their phones too much because they are anxious? In addition, many other factors might explain why a person is feeling that way.
Also, most studies are based on self-reported estimates of technology use, which are often unreliable. On the other hand, research often tends to treat all tech use as equal. However, we all know that scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and chatting on WhatsUp or using a GPS app are completely different things. We have a different experience with each type of technology we use, and that is something these studies often overlook.
The success of digital detoxes
Of course, there is nothing wrong with stepping away from technology for a few days. However, claims that digital detoxes are life changers and have long-lasting effects are not supported by science. On the other hand, giving up technology also means giving up the good things about it.
Just think about it, how often do you use your phone to contact your loved ones or get some work done? It is no wonder that studies have found that a complete withdrawal from social media can lead to boredom, feelings of social pressure, and fear. Although going offline and giving up a digital existence for a short amount of time may help you reconnect with other many aspects of your life, this is often a temporary state and eventually most people will simply return to old habits.
Maintaining the balance
Like with everything in life, finding a balance is the key to happiness. Therefore, while you use technology effectively during work hours, you can also be able to increase time for physical activity. Sign up for a yoga class, go cycling, hiking, fishing or sailing, do arts and crafts or train for a marathon. These simple activities offer a getaway from a tech overuse, so include them in your daily schedule. You can also clear your phone of unessential apps so you don’t have to constantly check for updates, and make mealtime phone-free time.
For decades people have been concerned about every mass-adopted technology invented, and social media and smartphones are no exception. Nowadays, technology is a part of our lives, however, how we use it is completely up to us. Knowing the possible negative effects of tech overuse can help you minimize them whilst still being able to enjoy the positive aspects of technology.