You know the symptoms. Aches from lack of movement or exercise. The constant need to check social apps. Insomnia. Weight loss/gain. Obsessive gaming. Increased loneliness and anxiety. General neglect in appearance and hygiene.
If you suffer from these and continue living as if “this is the new normal” then you are likely a digital addict in denial.
But don’t worry there are cures, even digital ones, that can snap back into shape, in no time.
What is a digital detox?
Digital detox means taking a break from using electronic devices, usually smartphones. A few days off of these devices can do a lot of good, and many months off can be a life-changing experience.
Digital addicts may have specific dependencies like needing to constantly check email, play games, like and comment on social media, and the like.
Social media detox
Social media can make us feel good especially when we are at the center of attention, showered with praise, congratulated on achievements, or simply when content is agreeable to us and our beliefs. Otherwise, social media can also trigger feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem when posted content is not agreeable to us, when experiencing fears of missing out (FOMO) or when our ideas, suggestions, or comments fall short of the expectations we set ourselves for others to accept or agree with.
Related to this, a June 2020 review noted that frequent technology use has been linked to heightened attention-deficit symptoms, impaired emotional and social intelligence, technology addiction, social isolation, and impaired brain development. That should convince you to take action.
Benefits of digital detox
According to a June 2022 report by Statista, there are 4.6bn active social media users globally, with Facebook leading with 2.9 billion followed by YouTube and WhatsApp with 2.56 and 2 billion respectively. There, we spend on average 147 minutes daily in 2022.
On average, Americans check their smartphones 96 times a day. Don’t think any of us are any different.
Digital detox is proven to provide you with higher productivity levels, closer relationships with family and friends, and a deeper understanding of what matters in life. With fewer notifications, you naturally tend to be less distracted and more focused on business and tasks at hand, which leads to less stress.
Digital Detox Apps
The phone app minimalist phone has surpassed 350,000 downloads as of July 2022, with more than 50 % of downloads stemming from the US alone.
“This is an important milestone for our app, and speaks to how minimizing screen time resonates with people around the world,” notes creator Martin Morávek.
Minimalist was launched in 2020 to help people cope with the negative health impacts of increased phone usage when people were socially distancing. It helped lessen multiple phone overuse, and reduce insomnia and depression.
Unlike other similar smartphone solutions, the minimalist app can work with an existing phone and doesn’t prevent people from texting, calling, or using their favorite apps, especially work-related ones. Instead, the app uses a unique layout, in-app time reminders, app hiding, notification filters, and a monochrome mode to gently nudge the user into reducing their screen time.
‘Moment’ is also one that tracks how much time you spend on your phone, enabling you to set time limits, enable reminders, and automatic shut-offs.
‘Flipd’ locks your phone for a set amount of time, preventing access to social media applications, but not calls or texts. The free app offers incentives like vouchers or gift coupons.
Finally, ‘AntiSocial helps tech addicts spend less time playing around with their phones by identifying how much time is spent on apps and allowing them to set daily limits for each app that automatically shuts down these social media following activities.