Before you get out of bed in the morning, do you check the notifications on the phone? Do you feel annoyed when you are without Wi-Fi or 4G? Do you activate your smartphone screen more than 150 times a day?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, you need a digital detox, to detoxify from your devices and from your social accounts. Greater concentration on work and greater productivity, more peaceful sleep, improved interpersonal relationships are just some of the benefits that you could derive from a more conscious use of technologies.
According to an ASSOCHAM-PwC joint study, the Indians equipped with a smartphone are more than 500 million and of these at least 380 million are present and active on social channels. But one of the most interesting data of this report concerns the time we spend with our device. Indians spend on average about 4 hours a day connected to the internet and 2 hour and 24 minutes only on social networks.
Are we all addicted to our smartphones?
Despite these impressive numbers, fortunately almost nobody is really a smartphone addict. Addiction to technology is a fairly rare case. What happens to most people is overconsumption of technology. And the reason is that technology has low access costs, little effort and great gratification.
In fact, almost everyone has a subscription that allows a connection for a fairly low amount. Browsing social networks or watching a video on YouTube requires all in all a minimal cognitive effort but on the other hand it has a strong gratification for your brain in terms of possibilities, because you can find a lot of information on what interests you.
And speaking of gratification, it has been scientifically studied that a like received on Instagram or Facebook manages to activate a rush of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter of well-being.
Digital stress: what are the causes?
Even if you have removed the spectrum of addiction, it is true that many people suffer from digital stress. Put simply, digital stress is caused by negative interactions with digital technologies such as emails, texts, social media, smart phones, technical applications etc.
You feel stressed when you receive some requests that you think you cannot manage properly. You feel stressed when you do not reply in time to an email or message, when you miss something that is said about you on social networks.
The numbers of the phenomenon
In the book “Digital Detox” by Alessio Carciofi there are many statistics about this phenomenon. Some of the most impressive ones are pointed out below:
- We are interrupted every 180 seconds. Distractions consume 28% of our day.
- We work two more hours to make up for lost time between notifications, WhatsApp groups, emails and conference calls.
- 68% of Indians look at the smartphone even if there are no notifications.
- A Microsoft study found that once interrupted by an email notification, workers take 24 minutes to return profitably to the suspended task.
- Cisco research reveals that 3 out of 5 users spend more free time with their smartphone than with their spouse.
- 9 out of 10 people suffer from phantom vibration syndrome (source Ansa).
- We can’t move away from the smartphone for more than 20 centimeters.
- 3 out of 4 traffic accidents are caused by distraction, increasingly due to the smartphone. Looking at the phone is distracting.
FOMO: the fear of being cut off
Another term that is often used in recent years is FOMO, an acronym for Fear of Missing Out, afraid of being cut off. People almost always tend to attribute face-to-face patterns to digital communication. If they are with a person and this person does not answer their question, they will feel snubbed. And they feel the same thing online.
Just think of the blue tick of Whatsapp and how you feel when you realize that the person to whom you have written is not replying to your message.
You believe that people are, and should be, always connected and therefore respond immediately. And in the same way you always feel the need to monitor what is said about you online. Of FOMO suffer especially teenagers who find themselves in great communication flows and being out of social networks for 5 hours for them will mean missing hundreds and hundreds of notifications.
Digital detox: advice not to get overwhelmed by social networks
If you live the blue ticks of Whatsapp as a commitment to respond immediately to the other person, if you cannot ignore the work emails even during the weekend: you really need a digital detox. But, attention: unplugging for a couple of days will not be enough. The risk is in fact to return to the same habit, once the smartphone is turned on. Even if there is no universal recipe, there are some tricks that you can implement to avoid being overwhelmed.
1. Filter your notifications
Notifications stress us. And on many phones the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature is available which allows you to reduce the notifications without eliminating those that are really relevant to us. Create a white list of contacts for which you want to be reachable, and you put the phone in this mode when you don’t want to receive notifications and communications from everyone.
2. Activate airplane mode at night
In this way our sleep will not be disturbed by email and message notifications. Basically, you’re eliminating all distractions that could be impeding your sleep or, worse, exacerbating anxiety. Also, the cell signal, the Wi-Fi, the Bluetooth, the GPS – all emit EMF radiation. When you activate the flight mode, your device shuts off all radio frequency transmissions.
3. Leave the phone in another room when you work or study
This piece of advice is especially for teenagers. When they have to study, they should keep their phone away from the desk so as not to have it near them, and, therefore, not to be tempted to look at it.
4. Plan one or more moments without technology
The ideal days are those of the weekend. Get used to going out without a cell phone. Tell everyone about the test you are about to do, then turn off your cell phone and exit. And don’t worry: if there is an emergency, those who are with you will certainly have a cell phone to lend you. Trust me, you will survive.
5. Designate regular unplugged times for everyone during the day
This is particularly important during meals. That’s because busy family schedules often mean that dinner is the only time during the day when the family sits down together. Without the distraction of screens, the family communication improves.
6. Maintain certain areas of the house where screens are off limits
As well as the dining room, this might include the kitchen. Moreover, families can designate a room devoted to reading and board games, with no TV. Plus, if technology is off-limits outside, kids are more likely to get involved in outdoor play.
The advantages of Digital Detox
1. Improve relationships, presence and awareness
Whatever you say, if while you are with other people, you have a fixed commitment to control the mobile phone, you cannot really participate in the dialogues and situations. How many times have you happened to see people who in the company of someone speak almost nothing but spend time checking their cell phones? And how many times has it happened to you too? Not having to think about controlling the smartphone, photographing everything you do, taking selfies, will allow you to be more present in what you do and what you are experiencing.
2. Improve productivity
The first advantage is that of having more time to devote to something else: reading, walking, doing nothing. It may seem like a paradox, but several studies have shown that technology is often the enemy of efficiency at work. Because it often makes us waste time.
3. You live and sleep better
As the constant stress decreases, the mind becomes quiet, and this can give many a nice feeling of well-being. In addition, the artificial light emitted by the smartphone increases the sense of alarm and significantly lowers melatonin levels, essential for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. To rest well it is therefore necessary to turn off all the devices at least an hour before going to bed.
Technology is incredible and the benefits are huge in so many aspects of everyday life. However, being able to unplug and have some time away from the screen will leave you re-energized and more in touch with the world around you.
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