Steve Jobs didn't let his kids use the iPad when it first came out. Bill Gates didn't give his kids cellphones until they were fourteen. Evan Spiegel limits the screen time of his seven-year-old to an hour and a half a week. Sundar Pichai limits the time his son spends watching TV.
The list goes on. Famous tech moguls are careful of how their children use the technology they often invented themselves. More than anyone else, they realize overexposure to tech is harmful.
That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.
- Steve Jobs
There's little reason to believe that overexposure to technology is somehow less harmful to adults. Yet many of us spend their days continuously watching one screen or the other, whether for work or entertainment.
Deep down, though, we realize this isn't good for us. That's why more and more people go on a digital detox. This article will explain what a digital detox is, why it's good for you, and how you can do one too.
A digital detox is a period of time where, to the best of your abilities, you either refrain from using all digital devices or seriously limit your use of them.
Because social media and smartphones haven't been around for all that long in the grander scheme of things, it's hard to fully understand the long-term positive and negative effects they have on our mental and physical health. But the early signs aren't good.
Too much screen time, and in particular too much social media, has been linked to several health problems. The urge to constantly check our emails, refresh our feeds, and scroll down social media is an unhealthy addiction that causes stress, disturbed sleep patterns, signs of depression, mental health problems, and more.
Reading the news and scrolling social media makes us feel as if we're missing out, as if we're not living life to the fullest. Of course, what we see on social media is a tiny, carefully crafted glimpse of someone's life. But we compare ourselves to that slice of perfectness nonetheless.
People go on a digital detox because they intuitively feel that this constant connectivity and comparison isn't healthy. Taking a break from tech every once in a while, either at the end of your working day or for a few days every year, will ground you in reality and release some of the stress that all our screens bring.
It's tough to break up with your devices, even if it's only a few hours a day. The first thing you want to do is make sure that no device will ask for your attention with beeps, buzzes, or other alerts. Turn those notifications off.
Secondly, put your devices away. This is particularly true for your phone. Put it in a drawer, because it will automatically draw your attention if it's in your field of vision. Consider the following study, where researchers discovered that the mere presence of a phone will decrease how connected and close you feel to the person you're talking to, while also decreasing the quality of your conversation.
If you're going for a milder version of a digital detox, and you're just trying to limit your screen time, ask yourself why you're pulling out your phone every time you do it. Often, we take out our phones for no particular reason. It's automatic. When you ask yourself why, you'll use your phone on a more purposeful basis.
Another good tip is to only use one screen at a time. We've all been found guilty of scrolling our phone while watching TV. But what's the point of watching a show if it's not worth your undivided attention? Stick to one screen at a time to be more focused and productive.
Technology is an incredible enabler, but we need to be mindful of its negative effects too. Too much tech can have a severe impact on our mental and physical health. Disconnecting from tech with a digital detox helps us stay in control of tech instead of the other way round.