Could You Be In Need of a Digital Detox?

A new study shows 70% of us feel that we spend too much time on our smartphones, while 63% of that same portion would consider getting help to reduce their usage.

The study, carried out by academics at the University of Derby, surveyed 256 participants about the nature and frequency of their smartphone usage, as well as asking them about their lifestyle and personality traits.

70% of people said that they feel smartphones are addictive, while 13% were found to actually be addicted.

Co-author of the study, Dr Zaheer Hussain, said he believes smartphones and apps should come with health warnings, to inform people of their addictive nature.

So how do you know if you’re in need of a digital detox?

Smartphones: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

With the average user spending 3.6 hours every day staring down at their smartphone, its no wonder we are seeing an increase in people wanting to re-balance their relationship with technology.

Social networking sites and apps were found to be the most popular, with 87% of users admitting to using them daily. Instant messaging services are the next popular with 52%, followed by news sites (51%).

The study explained that there was a strong link between smartphone addiction and negative personality traits, such as narcissism and neoroticism. For example, 35% of users admitted to using their devices in situations where they know they are banned, such as while one is driving. Attorneys at the Hoyer Law Firm reporting that many people offered the justification that they “knew better” than the law.

In addition, almost a quarter admitted that their smartphone had created communication issues in their real life, among their family and friends.

Hussain says:

“If the risks of the smartphone are well advertised, users will be more aware of the potential negative effects on their social life, including relationships with family and friends, and even intimate relationships.”

The Benefits of Digital Detox

For many people, the problem has become so bad that they have been known to seek help from professional services, like Digital Detox. Digital Detox is run by alldayPA, which strives to help people become more organised and have better control over the structure of their lives.

Sue Ratcliffe, spokesperson for alldayPA, says: “Digital Detox will stop you being so dependent on tech and will allow the busiest of people to focus on things better or just enjoy a break more completely.”

“It can be used to achieve a healthier, more productive work-life balance.”

Digital Detox is a provider of personalised support, to enable users to feel confident leaving their phone at home every once in a while. It can be booked with just 24 hours notice, and the customer can decide how they want incoming calls and messages to be handled (and if applicable, by whom).

It’s a perfect answer for those whizzing off on holiday, taking a weekend away, spending some quiet reflective time alone or booking in much-needed time with the family.

How to Carry Out Your Own Digital Detox

But you don’t have to book a professional service to start feeling liberated from the stress of smartphones and social media. With just some small rules in place a few tweaks to your daily routine, you too can start feeling better about your use of technology, putting it back in its place as a tool – not a crutch.

  • Decide how often you will carry out your ‘detox’. It may be eliminating the use of technology for 24 hours once a week, or simply setting designated hours during which you will detach yourself from tech (from 8pm to 10am for example).
    It could also be within certain situations, such as mealtimes, family time or time spent with a significant other).
  • Specify what exactly it is you will be detoxing from. Is it email? Social media? Online games? Virtual communication in general? Or maybe you simply want to know you can get by without using your phone or laptop at all. Work to limit the thing that is sapping most of your time.
  • Relish the idea of being ‘unattainable’ at certain times of the day or week. There is surely a certain kind of satisfaction that comes from keeping a bit of yourself shrouded in mystery from time to time.
  • Decide whether there is anything during your detox time that needs to be dealt with immediately, and if so, decide how they will be handled in your absence. You may decide to set up an auto-reply for your emails, for example, or allow a trusted friend or colleague to manage your messages for you.
  • Flight mode is a god-send. Use it during the hours when your use of email or your smartphone is limited. You can also deactivate the wireless setting on your laptop, if you are limiting all online communication but still want to use your laptop for other tasks.

Other tips…

  • Keep your smartphone in your bag or your pocket in social situations. There’s no need to have it on show if you don’t have a reason to use it.
  • Before posting anything on social media, ask yourself whether you’d share it face to face with somebody you know.
  • Never have your device next to you while you sleep. Keep it in another room, or at least on the other side of the room set to flight mode.
  • Look for other hobbies and activities to fill the time you would normally spend watching the TV or surfing the web. Cooking, baking, yoga, reading, or learning a new skill are all good ideas.