The Importance of Digital Detoxing for a Healthy Lifestyle
The Importance of Digital Detoxing for a Healthy Lifestyle
People around the globe have an average of 6 hours and 58 minutes of screen time per day. This time has increased by nearly 50 minutes per day since 2013. The average American spends 7 hours and 4 minutes looking at a screen each day.
Looking at the screen for over seven hours does not sound healthy. Digital addiction has been directly linked with problems like depression, anxiety, sleep problems, chronic neck and back pain, obesity, constant headache, and inefficiency.
Digital detox has become an inevitable part of the healthy lifestyle today. In this article, we learn how important detoxing your body is. We will discuss the benefits of digital detox, like less stress, anxiety, and depression; reduced problems like back and neck pain and obesity, resulting in increased work efficiency and better relationships.
How Much Digital Consumption is Too Much?
The average screen time in 2023 is 6 hours 58 minutes which is far from the healthy level. You will be surprised to see the current screen time of kids and teens. An average 8-10-year-old has six hours, 11-14 years old has nine hours, and 15-18 years old has seven and half hours of digital use, which are off limits.
Consequently, this age group is suffering from many problems, including depression, anxiety, and sleep problems, at a rate that has never been seen before.
Child development is at stake if not addressed soon. Not only the small age group but adults are also seeing the same problems. The case for adults who work via laptops or desktop computers is even worse.
Even the seniors and elderly now use over four hours and sixteen minutes on screen and are constantly checking their social media sites. It should be limited to only a few hours (two is preferable).
We have prepared a table with the ideal screen time for each age group, as recommended by Dr. Yousuf. We will further discuss the pros of limiting screen time.
|Age||Screen Time Recommendations|
|Under 2 years old||No screen time video chatting with family or friends can be considered|
|2-5 years old||Maximum of one hour in the supervision of the guardian|
|5-17 years old||Maximum of two hours excluding assignment and homework|
|18-60 years old||Maximum of two hours excluding work-related|
|Above 60 years old||Two hours for recreational activity is suggested|
Experts claim that any screen time beyond two hours is too much. There are some expectations and considerations like work for adults, assignment and education purpose to children and teens, and communication for small kids. However, you should monitor if these exceptions are being misused.
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Negative Effects of Digital Overload
Digital overload is the constant exposure to digital media through the screen like mobile devices, television, and laptop.
From a work or organizational point of view, digital overload can be referred to as an immense information flow from digital devices that usually consists of many correspondences, E-mails, or texts.
However, Digital overload is not limited to work as kids, teens, and even the elderly are affected too. Whether you are playing games, reading online, watching videos, or chatting, you are prone to digital overload.
Here are some of the major effects of Digital overload:
- Burnt out
- Trouble relaxing
- Anxiety and fear
- Mood swings
These are some of the most common problems or effects of digital overload and tech addiction. We will discuss the negative impact of digital overload on overall health, social relationships, productivity, creativity, and critical thinking.
1. Mental Health
People who use or are compelled to use digital media are more likely to suffer from many mental health issues like depression, anxiety, irritation, conduct disorder, and suicidal ideations (in very serious cases). In other cases, one might have a feeling of failure, being overwhelmed, and being powerless.
Due to the overuse of social media, people, generally teens, young adults, and sometimes even adults, compare themselves to others and are depressed. Other times, the information overflow will lead to restlessness, fatigue, anxiety, and irritation.
Moreover, those who overuse digital media will have trouble sleeping, especially if they use it before bedtime. The lack of adequate sleep will lead to many other problems, like an unorganized sleep cycle.
When all of these problems are combined, then people tend to be efficient, unorganized, and unproductive, which will result in feelings of failure, being overwhelmed, and being powerless.
You might require mental health treatment if you don’t address this problem quickly.
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2. Physical Health
Mental problems like stress, anxiety, and depression directly affect physical health. This and other effects will lead to problems like high blood pressure, heart attack, and sometimes panic attacks.
Moreover, due to a lack of improved sleep, one might face other problems like fatigue, tiredness, and restlessness. Constant screen exposure can cause vision problems, including digital eye strain, blurred vision, and dry eyes.
More digital exposure means less exercise and physical activity, which will lessen bone density, increase back and neck pain, etc.
3. Social Relationships
Digital overload also has severe consequences on social relationships. For instance, it is reported that people who use more social media apps have less social interaction. A report states that 73% of heavy social media users feel lonely compared to 52% of light users.
Moreover, the trend of using digital devices has led people to spend less time with family and friends. This creates a gap between the close people. You will begin to prioritize your mobile phones or laptop over any relationships. In other cases, you might even pretend to check your phone to avoid interaction, which is very unhealthy.
4. Productivity, Creativity, and Critical Thinking
Restlessness, lack of sleep, and other similar problems reduce a person’s capacity to think creatively. Moreover, when people use more digital media, they can easily find solutions and answers to virtually anything, significantly reducing their critical thinking.
On the one hand, the use of digital technology can enhance the productivity of a person, the digital overload will act the exact opposite and at a severe level. Moreover, physical problems will be a huge obstacle to better productivity.
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How to Digital Detox?
Now that we have learned the negative effects of digital overload, you might wonder how to do a digital detox for stress management. Don’t look further, we have prepared a guideline that you can follow for digital detoxing.
First, digital detox refers to reducing or removing the use of digital media, such as social media, for a certain time for a better lifestyle.
You don’t need a digital detox book to start a better life. Here are some digital detox tips, from following your hobby to leaving digital media.
1. Setting Limits and Boundaries (Schedule)
A digital detox does not mean you must go cold turkey. You can still use social media apps and other digital media but create boundaries and a schedule. However, don’t include more than two hours in the schedule. Use it for recreational purposes or for updating yourself.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Check your phone. Maybe it is time to reconsider some choices. Avoid keeping your phone near you during working hours, and sleep. Don’t let yourself break the limits and boundaries. You can set these boundaries at home and work for better relationships and productivity.
You can also go through the phone settings, which might help with digital addiction.
You can do the following things to set limits:
- Avoid keeping digital devices near you except for the scheduled time.
- Disable social media notifications
- Enable social media disabling apps
- Track the time
- Check your time online
- Restrict the use of digital devices like mobile devices in the dining room
- Block certain apps
Try these acts, and you will not regret it.
2. Unplugging and Disconnecting from Technology
If setting limits does not fascinate you and you want to do something challenging, try unplugging and disconnecting from digital technology.
Try to live a better lifestyle, go camping, travel and meet new people, and do breathing exercises; just throw away the electronic devices (phone and laptop), at least for some time.
Gather more friends to join you as you will feel more comfortable and motivated.
You can practice a 7-day social media detox, it is a challenge when you don’t use social media for seven days. You might feel anxious at first, but it will get better. Hard? Definitely. But it will be worth it.
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3. Practice Mindfulness
You can maybe find some peace in spiritual practices. Practice mindfulness, do yoga or meditation, travel, and spend time in nature. Maybe take a sauna or enjoy your alone time. It is the time to let go, let go of all the stress. This can be peaceful and help with viewing life from a different perspective.
Spend time on real-world activities. You will see a lot of difference if you had mental health issues before starting mindfulness. The time away from the digital world will be a rewarding experience.
4. Offline Connection
There is no better way to improve social interaction than offline connection. Although technology has brought people together, it has separated people more than ever. So, go offline and meet people in person rather than on a pixelated screen. You can still stay connected and talk to people and share some thoughts.
People rarely give time to their families nowadays. Maybe this is the chance and time to turn things around. Spend some quality time with family and friends, there is a good chance that you will not miss digital media.
5. Explore New Hobbies and Interests
The reason that you are mindlessly scrolling through your phone or watching the laptop screen might be because you are not finding the activities that you have a passion for. If you already have hobbies, interests, and passions, then following them is great. However, if you don’t have any, explore new hobbies and interests.
Maybe fishing, traveling, reading books, meeting new people, trying new foods and things, or collecting anything that might interest you. Try everything and explore more in everyday life.
Benefits of Digital Detoxing
Still not convinced why to do a digital detox? Don’t worry. You will be after finding out the benefits of digital detox. Leaving the technology and screen might let you live the best life. From being productive in work or academics to having a great relationship. You can have everything from avoiding severe mental and physical illness to improved interactions.
1. Improved Physical and Mental Health
A digital detox will help you in your physical, mental, and emotional health. Distancing yourself from social media will primarily allow you to engage more in physical activities, reducing the chances of high blood pressure, heart attack, obesity, and diabetes.
Moreover, you are more likely to improve sleep cycles and get more sleep, making you feel refreshed and active.
Avoiding digital exposure will enable you to engage in exercises that will improve your health.
In addition, if you avoid tech use, you are unlikely to compare yourself with anyone online and set an impossible target. These acts will help in reducing anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. You can focus on your personal growth and development, which can benefit your mental and physical health.
2. Increased Productivity and Creativity
Digital detox can significantly increase productivity, creativity, and critical thinking. Moreover, it is also linked with an increased concentration span. Improved sleep, less stress, and meaningful relationships can significantly improve productivity. You can set yourself as an example among colleagues in the workplace or your friends in school/college.
Similarly, you can have better creativity and critical thinking when you are not under stress. When you practice digital detox, you can have more control over your time and spend it wisely. Your creativity and critical thinking also increase when you are not always occupied.
When your brain is not fed with constant information, it can have better focus and an increased concentration span.
3. Improves Social Connection
Another important benefit of digital detox is improving social connection. However, one might say that digital media, such as social media, helps in social connection. Yes, it is correct, but social skills like physical interaction have significantly dropped after the sudden rise in the use of social media and other digital media.
Furthermore, it is about developing the relationships that matter the most. A digital detox will let you control your time more effectively; here, you can spend more time with your parents and family or even your friends. You can meet up and enjoy precious moments together. Go on and fill in the gap created by the extended tech use.
Spend time with your close ones rather than watching tv, spending time on tech devices in different rooms, gathering up, and enjoying the time together.
Digital detox is a way to focus on real-life social interactions without obstructions.
Challenges of Digital Detoxing
There might hardly be anyone who would not want to practice digital detox after learning about its benefits. After all, who might not want stress management and physical and mental health, However, it is easier said than done. There are many unwanted challenges in digital detox that can interfere with the practice.
1. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)
Fear of missing out, popularly known as FOMO, has become a household name. It is what it sounds like. This is a phenomenon where one thinks s/he will miss out on something if they are not constantly updated.
Joining every other party, feeling bad when not having a weekend plan, having a hard time not using social media, and checking your phone as soon as you get up are all signs that you have FOMO.
It makes digital detox very hard as people feel they might miss a trend or a viral video online. Just try to keep your phone away and check if it gives a positive feeling. There will hardly be anyone that will remember how updated you are with the newest trends. So, avoid creating social media accounts on every platform.
2. Dependence on Technology for Work, Communication, and Entertainment
Another unwanted challenge is the dependence on technology for work, communication, and entertainment. Technology use is not limited to entertainment anymore.
Many people work on laptops and desktop computers, which makes it impossible for them to avoid digital media even for a day (except for the holidays). In such cases, you can limit the use of such media outside the workplace.
Similarly, there are students who depend upon digital platforms for their education, academics, assignment, and research. Like the case mentioned above, you can limit the use of such platforms outside the classroom or in academics.
Moreover, the dependence on digital devices in the study has been growing since covid19 pandemic. Parents can use parental control apps to reduce it. The same goes for communication and entertainment purposes. Staying connected with technology has been very difficult.
3. Daily Habits and Routines
Do you check your phone immediately after waking up? Does your finger always go to a particular place on your phone without even noticing? Do you mindlessly scroll through the phone? Yes, most of us do that which shows how hard it is to work against routine and habits.
You can set up social media blocking apps and other similar programs which can significantly help in your journey of digital detox.
4. Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms are the abnormal physical and psychological effects after discontinuing something addictive (social media addiction in this case). A person can face symptoms like irritability, frequent mood swings, negative thoughts, anxiety, and even psychosis in some cases after practicing digital detox.
Even a simple thing like push notifications can impact the social media detox. However, one must remember that these addictive behaviors are temporary and the detox will be beneficial in the long run.
5. Limited Alternatives
Suppose you decided to leave digital media, but now what? How to spend time? This is a major issue with a digital detox. One might not be able to find an alternative for entertainment. Everyone might not have specific interests and hobbies. Take this as an opportunity and explore yourself more.
For some, the situation is even worse as they might have hobbies and interests but are unable to follow them. In another situation, digital platforms might be the only way to communicate like phone calls. There are very limited solutions to this problem.
6. Social Pressure
You have done it, you have started digital detox despite all the odds. The next day you go to the workplace or school, and a co-worker or a friend says, “did you watch the video I sent you yesterday?” Yes, your journey with digital detox can end in this way. Social pressure from peers or coworkers to remain connected online can make it very difficult.
You can ask them to join you in this venture which will be beneficial for both you and your peers.
We can all agree that digital overload is one of the biggest problems out there today. A few hours of time in the virtual world is perfectly fine but there is a limit. As a result, there is no alternative to digital detox. You need digital detox for physical benefits like reduced diseases, tiredness, and improved health.
Moreover, this detox will help improve mental and emotional health through improved sleep and reduced anxiety, stress, depression, and negative feelings. Likewise, it will help in developing and maintaining better social relationships. Finally, you can also improve your productivity, creativity, and critical thinking.
Follow digital detoxing habits, set up good digital health, and lead a better life. Take a break from digital technologies and the digital world by setting boundaries for a more organized life.
Follow the above-mentioned ways to start your journey with a digital detox and avoid the aforementioned challenges, and your life will change for good.