Constant ping alerts you cannot resist checking. Binge watching the box for hours. Getting up in the middle of the night to check work emails. Does this ring a bell for you? How many times have you had a mini heart attack tapping your pocket, and you couldn’t feel your phone?
On average, a person checks their phone around 200 times per day, and according to a UK poll, ¼ people spend more time online than they do sleeping. These stats may seem staggering, but it’s a fast growing sign of our times and evident that we are so glued technology that it verges addiction.
I am not a Luddite. I love the convenience of technology and enjoy tweeting and loading up pictures on Instagram. There are enormous benefits for connecting with people and networking. It’s how I got into writing online. However, I do worry about people, especially young people living in a digital dystopia with no real friends and having poor social skills as a consequence of being swallowed in by their devices. It is a fact that most young people prefer texting than talking. This is a real shame and a denial of human interaction.
So, if we can make New Year’s resolutions to better ourselves in our lives, then a reboot with a mini digital detox is a great place to start.
If a full digital detox sounds too tricky, then start off making small changes first, and start owning your time instead of being owned by a machine with these simple tips.
One for the Parents. Remember that having a phone or tablet is a privilege and you have the right to confiscate or turn off the TV. Make sure dinner times are about family or spending time with people that have a pulse.
Screen saving time
Watching the box is not inherently bad in moderation. It’s a great way to relax and zone out. However, one episode of Netflix turns to another and another and before you know it you’re a TV addict binging on the box and snacks for over 6 hours a day.
We Brits, spend over 3 months in a year in front of the TV. Try and limit your allowance to no more than 2 hours per day. Only watch what you enjoy otherwise you get sucked into never-ending episodes of a sedentary lifestyle. Try and get out of the house and be more active. Maybe join a class, pop to the shops or see friends. If friends do come over, avoid sitting in front of the TV. Switch it off or sit away from it.
A great substitute for the box is reading a book or a newspaper. Reading from a hardback puts less eye strain like a tablet or TV. If you don’t like reading do a crossword, write or start painting.
Cut the cord
I noticed how well I slept when I put my phone to flight mode and even better when I turned off the internet router. Reports suggest that exposure to Electromagnetic radiation is only dangerous over an extended period. If Electromagnetic radiation can pass through walls to provide Wi-Fi and connection, then they can move through our bodies! How can that not have some effect on us? Studies show that prolonged exposure to this spectrum of radiation does cause damage to our skin, our cells and health. If your router is not turned off, you are exposed 24/7.
My advice is to turn it off. That goes for computer monitors, chargers and anything that plugs. Pull it out.
Get a few plants in the house too. Plants oxygenate the room. They also neutralise free radicals in the air. They are alive, and it’s a beautiful experience nurturing them. Water them, talk to them and watch them grow.
Take a social media break
One last check on your news feed leads to another news feed, then a video, then liking this and liking that. Sooner or later you are caught up in a keyboard warrior war. It’s a weapon of mass distraction! Avoiding the temptation is harder than you think. My advice is to deactivate for a while. You might get a few withdrawals, but if you have disabled, you will not get notices and have anything to check. Try it for 28 days and notice how much better you spend your time.
Hijacked by Facebook? Join fewer groups and turn off alerts. Instead of relying on virtual friends go out and make real ones, or meet those friends on social media face-to-face. We are social beings and need people with a pulse. Virtual reality is a supplement, not a substitute.
Remember, smartphones and technology are a tool that you control. Not the other way round!