Updated: Mar 16
There’s a clinic at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, in Bengalaru, India called SHUT (Service for Healthy Use of Technology Clinic). Their job is to help people fight tech-based addictions. Initially coming across this article I was slightly shocked. Do people really need help to get away from technology? Is this how bad it has got? Do we only need to detox digitally, or is there an underlying issue at hand?
The Digital Detox
A digital detox, according to Wikipedia is:
A period of time during which a person refrains from the use of electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers. It is regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress, focus more on social interaction and connection with nature in the physical world.
Does it even really work? There are 4.5 billion active Internet users in the world. 100% of 18 to 29 year olds in the USA use the Internet. With over 3.8 billion active social media users, spending on average 2 hours and 24 minutes every day on these applications. It’s crazy to think that around two decades ago, none of this was even here. In fact, the majority of you reading this will remember a time when none of this was even dreamt about! We are connected wherever we go; at work, schools, public transport, flights, homes, city centres, literally everywhere. The average user spends around 6.5 hours online every day. iPhone users can simply head over to their battery stats to see how much time they’re spending on their devices.
What drives this feasting addiction is the idea that we will be disconnected if we don’t tap in. Here are some of the effects of this crazed addiction:
I am missing out: Many people admit that when they scroll through Facebook and Instagram feeds, and see friends enjoying themselves, they feel they are missing out — known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) in the Oxford Dictionary.
Compare Me: On social media, when we are exposed to the sugarcoated version of people’s lives, we end up comparing ourselves with them. Some even begin to lose confidence.
Filter Up: On social media applications like Instagram and Snapchat, visual engagement is the only source feed. With the use of filters, people touch-up their photos to improve them; probably one of the reasons that Instagram ranked worst for the mental health of young people.
Digital Sleep: Using social media applications or sites before bed has been shown to affect thoughts during your sleep. Ending up in a low quality go sleep, and as per a Harvard study: irregular or insufficient sleep increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
In fact, all of these have been shown to increase levels of stress and anxiety, particularly in the lives of young adolescents. Girls experiencing depression tend to use social networking sites more than boys, for whom anxiety was a major trigger for the increased use of social media.
A Practical Detox
When we talk about going on a digital detox, it usually means cutting off your self from using all devices that keep you connected to the outside world. Now, we all know this is difficult in the modern day and age, and so we want a practical digital detox. The idea is that we need time to ourselves; a time to be alone and focus on our positive energy. So what can we do? Here are some starting hacks that you might want to consider:
30 minutes before going to bed, put your phone on ‘Do not Disturb’. Keep your phone away from your bed, on a desk or table nearby — do not sleep with your phone next to your head.
Unfollow people (even friends and influencers) who propagate political agenda and materialistic objects. Trust me on this one, try it.
Think twice before buying any new, technological gadget for your home or family.
Instead of texting away on WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram DMs or iMessage: call them.
On your weekends, get away from home if you can. This is hard given the current situation of the world, so instead of sitting in front of your TV watching Netflix, pick up a new skill: try cooking, gardening, start a blog, or read a book!
Reading a book? Go to an open place, surrounded by nature and read, as opposed to reading in the comfort of your home. Turn off your mobile data and enjoy the read for a good half an hour to an hour. Don’t worry, the world won’t end in this time.
Volunteer. Take part in community or charity work, and there is more than ever before now! A lot of charities and community groups are always looking for volunteers, so get involved. In the joy of others, lies our own.
Meditate. One of the single, most powerful tools I use to detox is meditation. But more on this in the next post.
You can, of course, take the extreme root of completely disconnecting from all digital gadgets for days on end, but from what I have seen, this does more harm than good. Again, it works differently for different people, and it may well suit you. Do what works for you, but try it out.
This is the first part of my series on ‘Detox’. I hope you found this helpful and gained some tips on beginning a digital detox. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
My deepest prayers for you. Keep Smiling.