For all the appeal of technology, the digitally connected culture and its ever-present connected environment is generating quite a bit of stress.
A survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) has found our relationship with technology and social media has become detrimental to our health. And use of social media has grown from 7% in 2005 to a whopping 65% a decade later –especially more so among young adults.
As a result, almost half of us have become “constant checkers” of email, texts or social media accounts. However, not only is technology a source of stress when it won’t function as needed, but so is being connected all the time – think about the political or cultural arguments that occur online.
As a matter of fact, a survey from marketing intelligence firm CivicScience found that non-users of social networks are 28% more likely than users to report their lives are “not at all” stressful.
It makes the case for a digital detox – taking a break from all your electronic devices.
However, while 65% of those surveyed in the APA study called this a good idea, only 28% actually do it. So here are just some reasons do so:
- You’re more apt to remember things. Technology can be a distraction, training our brains to ignore details that may be important to us, whether it be the third sentence of that paragraph you just read or writing down in your planner that assignment due next Wednesday.
- You sleep better. A scientific theory is that the blue light from our screens suppresses the melatonin in our bodies that influences our sleep, making us more alert and less likely to get quality sleep.
- Removing technology encourages people to remember what might be vague details, but which are key to bonding with others. Did you catch that Christina Yang sticker on the water bottle of the girl who sits next to you in your brain and behavior class? You could very well have a new Grey’s Anatomy fan to talk about the new episodes with!
- You gain a new perspective. Without the constant distractions of technology, we’re freer to think about important issues influencing our lives, and make meaningful changes.
Convinced but don’t know where to start? Here are some ways to test it out:
- Take baby steps. Just like any indulgence, completely cutting something out of your lifestyle immediately is typically extremely difficult. Success is more likely to occur if you take it in small increments. Start with 15 minutes free of technology, then 30 minutes, and then an hour without checking your social media apps. Over time, you’ll work your way up to making it several hours without – and be much healthier for the new habit.
- Set aside “no screen time” breaks throughout the day. Good places to start are during meals and at bedtime. You can also try setting aside a single day of the week that is technology free. Just say “no” to having your smartphone, laptop or tablet at the ready.
- Set aside time to respond to emails and texts. If you only check and respond three times a day (Ex: 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.) you’ll save a lot of time. All you have to do is turn off your alerts and push notifications, or just turn your ringers/volume off. That “Do not disturb” feature on your smartphone is pretty handy for this, too!
- Use a traditional alarm clock. If you don’t use your smartphone or tablet to wake up in the morning, you’ll be less likely to check your emails, texts and Snapchats first thing in the morning.
- Participate in tech-incompatible activities. It’s hard to check your phone when you’re swimming and counterproductive to do during meditation. Stick to activities that aren’t technology-friendly or where its use is frowned upon. Moreover, you can involve others in your efforts by making a game out of it (Ex: Whoever checks their phone first at dinner has to treat!).
- Get other people on the same page. When you let people know you’re withdrawing from screen time, not only do you reduce the amount of incoming external messages you may be receiving, but you very well may motivate others to do the same!