October 6, 2021
Digital Detox Challenge
As of September 2020, the average American spends ten hours per day on media — that is, TV, phone apps, tablet apps, internet, radio, and streaming devices. This means we’re spending almost half of our days immersed in technology, with more than four of those hours spent using apps on smartphones. Sometimes it feels like media and technology are an unavoidable part of our everyday lives. However, on the bright side, there are plenty of opportunities for all of us to back away from technology and engage ourselves more in all of the other wonders of the world!
The Digital Downside
There’s plenty of research suggesting we should steer clear of the digital world when possible. In fact, overuse or dependence on digital forums is shown to have negative effects on both our physical health and our mental well-being. Some of the most common consequences our physical health suffers include eye strain, musculoskeletal problems (stress on neck, shoulders, and spine), and insomnia.
Our mental well-being struggles in ways that we may not even recognize. Excessive technology use can lead to depression, anxiety, aggressive behaviors, and even substance use. While some of the apps you’re using everyday were created as a way to interact with others, these can actually have the opposite effect and lead to feelings of social isolation.
Moreover, research shows that our children are really getting the short end of the stick. Too much screen time or low-quality screen time for kids has been linked to behavioral problems, loss of social skills, obesity, sleep problems, and violent tendencies.
It’s Time for a Change
Have you ever heard of a digital detox? The basic idea is to get away from the digital world as much and as often as possible. In today’s day and age, it’s usually not feasible to get away completely but putting up boundaries to limit digital interaction can improve your overall enjoyment of life. Plus, being a good role model to the children in your life is critical in their growth process.
So, if you’re brave enough to look out for your mental and physical well-being and take a hiatus from the digital world, keep reading for our 30-day digital detox.
Track your habits. Install a usage tracking app on your phone to see how much time you spend scrolling. Start a journal and do your best to log any other media you engage with; this includes TV, tablet, internet, radio, and streaming devices. Engage in all of your regular activity with media over the next week.
Take a look at your tracking app results and find your most used “time suck” apps (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) on your phone. Delete them! Or, if you don’t have the heart to completely delete, move them to a different spot on your phone so they’re more difficult to access.
Set boundaries. Refrain from using devices the first hour after you wake up and the last hour before you go to bed. Pro tip: set your phone to “do not disturb” during those hours so you don’t get any unnecessary notifications.
Instead of going home and turning on the TV, get some fresh air. You can go for a walk with your partner or a friend, read a book on the patio, or take up a new hobby.
Turn off notifications you don’t need. For example, if your phone dings every time you get a new email, turn off your email notifications. Then, designate a time to check your inbox each day.
Organize your email inbox. Unsubscribe from those emails that you typically delete, trash emails you’ve already read, and create categorized folders for the important emails you want to keep.
Instead of reaching for your phone when you’re bored, grab your journal and write whatever comes to mind! You can use this as an opportunity to write about what and who you’re grateful for, plan out your next vacation, do a little stream of consciousness journaling, or even write out a list of goals you hope to achieve with all of the time you’re saving in your digital detox. You can even buy a journal from your local bookstore that provides you with creative journaling prompts every day of the week!
Do not allow screens of any kind in bed. The blue light emitted from those screens can delay the release of melatonin (natural sleep aide), reset your body’s internal clock to a later schedule, and increase alertness right before you’re attempting to get off to sleep.
Repeat days 8–14 for these last two weeks. By the end of the month, your newly formed habits should start coming naturally, and hopefully you start feeling a little less dependent on technology and media.
5 Tips for a Successful Digital Detox
- Be realistic. If you need to use the internet for work, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, take regular breaks and only use it for work (not endless cat videos).
- Quitting cold turkey isn’t always effective. Schedule some time in your week to scroll through your phone, watch a movie, etc.
- When you’re tempted to use a device, get out of the house — go for a walk or grab a bite to eat.
- Let your friends and family know so they don’t worry if they don’t hear from you as often.
- Keep a journal to track how you’re feeling throughout the month.