A digital detox is a period of time during which you intentionally avoid using electronic devices like your smartphone, tablet and computer. This can be a period of days or weeks of no digital device use whatsoever. However, you can also detox by committing to reducing your daily “screen time” by a certain amount. Many people find that a digital detox has a positive impact on their mental, emotional and physical health.
Benefits of a Digital Detox
Each person’s digital habits are different, and consequently their reaction to a digital detox is unique. But, in general, people who detox to a significant degree report that the reduction in device use provides benefits that include:
- Improved relationships. Uninterrupted conversations help create and maintain strong relationships.
- Reduced stress. When our devices are nearby, we tend to have a heightened sense of expectation that can be very stressful.
- Increased productivity and creativity. People who are free from distraction and required to rely on their minds rather than their device tend to get more done and to perform their tasks more creatively.
- Better sleep. Reduced screen time, especially in the hours preceding bedtime, can have a calming effect that promotes better sleep.
- Improved outlook. Social media can be a source of disappointment and frustration when we continuously compare our lives to the often filtered and enhanced portrayals of others’ lives. Less comparison can lead to greater confidence.
- More physical activity. The less time you spend in front of a screen, the more time you have for exercise and other healthy outdoor activities.
Tactics for Reducing Device Use
Here are six steps you can take as part of a digital detox:
- Turn off push notifications. Frequent alerts are one of the reasons devices can be so addictive, as each notification causes a small burst of endorphins.
- Put away devices during meals. Distraction-free dining is much more enjoyable and promotes more conversation.
- Convert to black and white. The colorful images displayed on devices are designed to attract attention. Some phones, tablets and computers have settings for displaying everything in grayscale.
- Make the bedroom a no-tech zone. Using an alarm clock as opposed to the alarm function on a device eliminates the temptation to check for notifications and updates.
- Consider deactivating social media accounts. If there’s is little or no value to having a particular social media account, delete it.
- Control content flow.You can use your device’s settings to block notifications for certain times, like dinner and sleeping. A number apps can also help filter content (searching “digital detox” in your app market is a good start).
Smartphones, tablets and computers are valuable and important tools of modern life. The key is using them in moderation and ensuring that you are controlling them, not the other way around.