A digital detox refers to greatly reducing or totally eliminating your exposure to technology, digital devices and consumer electronics, for a significant period of time. This can be a few hours each day, one day each week, every weekend or an entire week. But, can we do it?
Text Neck or Blackberry Thumb?
“Text neck” is a term doctors are using to describe the neck pain that is caused by the classic texting posture. Many smartphone users stare down at their phones while texting so frequently that they begin to experience upper back, neck and shoulder fatigue and pain.
The condition is concerning, especially for children practically born with a phone in their hands. Some doctors believe irreversible, permanent damage to the spine is possible, leading to a lifetime of pain and limited mobility.
“Text claw” describes persistent pain that owes itself to the fact that text fanatics keep their wrist in a fixed position for a long period of time. “Blackberry thumb” refers to dull pain in the thumb that is the product of tapping a physical keyboard like the ones made famous by the once popular Blackberry cell phone.
Pain and weariness in the eyes, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers can all trace their way back to chronic cell phone usage in many cases. An overdose of tech can even result in decision fatigue. These are all signs that point to the need for a digital detox.
Digital Detox Explained
Just as physical detoxing helps remove toxins, poisons and harmful chemicals from our body, digital detoxing removes the negative effects of technology overexposure. The health problems created by a digital overdose, previously mentioned, are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg where mental and physical health issues related to technology are concerned.
Simply unplugging from technology boosts brainpower, improves feelings of happiness and peacefulness, and creates more free time. It improves both mental and physical health, and since a recent study shows that 65% of Americans suffer from digital eyestrain, a techno-detox can actually improve our vision!
Another reason for freeing ourselves of digital dependence is the positive effect this practice has on how efficient and productive we are.
Unplugging Make us More Productive
It’s true. Multiple bodies of research show that frequent and regular exposure to digital technology encourages multitasking. Multitasking was a popular catchphrase in the 1990s but which we now know is a killer of both productivity and efficiency.
Distraction goes up when we are trying to do too many things at once, and the results of all of these individual activities are watered down. We can become more focused and productive with a regular dose of digital detoxing.
Did you know that unplugging can actually help us retain more information? While it is true that the Internet and the constant information streams we receive every day can reveal new information, this relentless exposure to digital data trains our brain to remember only in the short-term.
We become used to a constant and endless barrage of new information, so we end up with a brain that cannot retain information over time. Our brainpower bottoms out, focusing on nothing more than what is going on right now.
Technology also offers a digital death of creativity. There is a reason that authors, musicians, painters and creators of life-changing inventions often have their best ideas in the shower, or when they wake up first thing in the morning. Sleeping and showering offer moments of digital detoxing, where our brain is free to pursue creative efforts.
Good for Friends
The possibility that Facebook, Twitter and other electronic, virtual hangouts might not be the best places to socialize may sound like heresy. In one study, an incredible 82 out of every 100 people said they believe the use of cell phones while socializing is ruining the art of conversation.
How do you feel when someone you are talking to answers their smart phone while you are in the middle of a sentence?
Watching reality television also gives an unreal expectation of people. Second Life and SimCity are virtual worlds where people can create any reality they can dream up. Some users get so bogged down in these fake worlds that they have lost the ability to socialize with real human beings.
Video game players can become so addicted to their gaming that they actually die in front of their monitors. Reports of video gamers dying from heart attacks because of constant digital input and overconsumption of energy drinks and soft drinks for 3 or 4 days at a time is beginning to become more commonplace.
Even if a gaming addiction doesn’t kill us, it is ruining our social skills. If hanging out on Facebook rather than speaking to people face-to-face becomes the premier method of socializing, it is time for a digital detox.
Unplugging regularly leads to a better life/work balance, improves your communication skills, helps you become more people-oriented, and makes us better social animals.