plug going into outlet

By NCADD Staff

Over the last decade, technology has become more advanced and accessible to many. Almost everyone has a smartphone in their hands or can be seen working from laptops and tablets. It has increased productivity, while also providing a way to connect with others and express ourselves — primarily through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and more.

While technology has certainly increased the amount of connectivity happening in the world, sometimes it can be too much. Spending some time off of smartphones, computers and other digital devices can be a refreshing way to reconnect with yourself, return to face-to-face communication and even increase mental health. 

What is a digital detox?

Though it will look different for everyone, a digital detox is intentional time spent reducing your use of technology. Some people may prefer to step away for a week, some for a few hours a day, and some may choose to disconnect from certain devices and platforms permanently. 

A digital detox is a chance to set boundaries in communication, which may not be easy to do when you have 24/7 access to thousands of apps and social media platforms. In a way, there is a chance to communicate with pretty much whoever you want whenever you want. All you have to do is unlock your phone and open an app. 

Reasons to do a digital detox

Enjoy present experiences

Consuming a large amount of digital media every day can take you away from experiences happening around you. According to the Nielsen Company, U.S. adults, on average, spend about 11 hours a day consuming media. This includes scrolling through thousands of photos on a social media app and wondering what others are doing. It can be hard to not want to “fit in” or have a “fear of missing out” (FOMO) when everywhere you look or scroll, there is someone who looks like they’re having a better time than you. If you find yourself spending more time online than living experiences, that can be a sign that it’s time to take a step back. Reducing your time limit or even changing your mindset of why you’re logging on can help you reduce negative impacts.

Reduce stress and improve mental health

Due to the constant connection available at your fingertips, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of checking your phone every few minutes to see if there is a notification or text message. In a way, notifications are like people tapping on your shoulder to get your attention, except this can sometimes happen at a high volume. Trying to focus on one task while there are tons of notifications coming up on your phone is difficult. Your phone is constantly vying for your attention. This need to keep up with multiple things at once can be stressful and disrupt your health. It can cause sleeping problems, increase in stress and anxiety, and additional mental health struggles.

How to do a digital detox

Interested in doing a digital detox? Here are some tips for success:

  • Establish boundaries. Choosing certain times during the day when you won’t use your phone can help you be more intentional with your time. You may also determine where you will keep your phone during those times in order to avoid the temptation to use it. Additionally, you may establish a physical boundary of only using your phone when you are in a certain place, such as in the living room or in the store if you’re running errands.
  • Rearrange apps with purpose. Your phone’s main screen is the first thing you look at every time you use it. Rearranging the main screen and choosing different apps or widgets to display can help you become more intentional and productive. You may decide to put a mediation app and camera app on the main screen to remind yourself to stay focused on mindfulness and capturing the beauty around you.
  • Turn off notifications. The more notifications that are coming in, the more time you’ll spend on your phone. A lot of people get addicted to having notifications and will constantly check it, anticipating the next “ding.” In each app, there is a setting that allows you to turn off device notifications. When apps are constantly grabbing your attention, you’ll begin to lose the need to pick up your phone every few seconds.

If you or someone you know is struggling with technology use or addiction, visit Wellspring Center for Prevention. We have additional resources and guidance to offer on healthy technology use, setting boundaries and digital detox.

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