The Digital Detox: Is Technology Really as Necessary as We Think?
By Dr Becky Spelman
The issue of technology is somewhat of a paradox. It’s an undeniable advancement that’s helped bridge the gap between us the rest of the world. But in other instances, it’s become a replacement for real interaction. So many people are living out their life online through the creation of an avatar. It’s nothing new to hear this since we’re well into the information age. But it’s becoming more and more of a problem. So much so, that the term digital detox is a phrase that’s been passed around for several years now. There comes the point when you have to question who is the dominant figure in the dynamic between man and machine?
The term detox has extreme connotation for some people. It implies scarcity, lack and denial. But when you look at it from a more holistic point of view, it’s more about letting go of what no longer serves you. It’s about simplifying your life. Recent studies have shown that there is a new type of tech user that is more susceptible to addictive tendencies than others. The “constant checker.” These are the people who are glued to their devices throughout the day. They’re stuck in the instant gratification mindset of receiving small ‘wins’ in the form of message notifications. But it’s more than just bad habit; it’s actually leading to anxiety and depression in many people who over-engage with their devices. One study even showed that the overuse of phones increased the likelihood of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
There’s a whole litany of problems that come from the prolonged use of devices of all kinds. It isn’t just phones that are the culprit. Although they do seem to take most if the flak given how disruptive they are in social situations. Laptops, tablets and even the television all have their drawbacks. A lot is made of the emotional impact that social media has on our health. But one of the lesser talked about issues is posture. Using your phone or tablet for prolonged periods causes you to hunch your shoulders. It’s a pose we all adopt. But it’s not a natural position for our body, and it doesn’t stop when you put your device down. We’re all hunching our shoulders, creating unnecessary wear on the body that will come back to haunt people in later life. Smartphones and the like are still such a relatively new phenomenon that we still don’t know what the long-term effects will be.
But the biggest with our device usage isn’t the actual device itself. It’s the content that we access through. As we’ve touched on, social media is an unavoidable fact. It isn’t going away anytime soon. We’re slowly getting to the point where in ten years we’ll have a generation of young adults who have never known a world without Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s a sobering thought because of what it means for the potential effect it will have on our relationships with one another. Device usage in social settings has already become a source of contentions for many people. It can create connections between us. But it’s so often a third-party during conversations it’s becoming more of an irritant than a benefit to society.
So how much do you detox? For some, it’s going to be harder than others. Not just because of the amount of will power needed. But also due the fact that our devices are such a huge part of how we access information. Everything from phone numbers, addresses, recipes and tutorials. It’s all there at the click of a finger. That’s the good side of technology. It’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Some things are useful and save us a lot of time. But ask yourself, ‘what isn’t necessary?’ Do you need to check Facebook every other minute? Is it that important to binge-watch vlogs on YouTube? The answer is most likely a resounding no. Challenge yourself to let go of most consuming habits. Try it for 30-days. You might be surprised at how much space it creates in your life for more productive pursuits.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
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