Walk a few paces without your head buried in your smartphone and you will realize that everyone else is typing away on their phones. There are rarely people who have the time to peek away from their screen and at the world around them. The obvious reasoning behind this is the widespread use of smartphones that have invaded almost every walk of our lives under the guise of connectivity. And this is exactly what calls for the need of digital detox.

A survey reveals that approximately 90% of folks in the age bracket of 18-29 sleep with their smartphones. 95% of these use their device for one reason or another just before heading to bed. Half of these, check their phones as the first thing in the morning when they wake up.

Another survey also confirms this, as it reveals that nearly 80% of the smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. These findings from IDC Research also indicate that about 79% of adult smartphone users have their phones for 22 hours in a day.

All these glaring statistics reveal that smartphones and its family e-devices have invaded our lives so much so that they are with us for almost the entire day minus only two hours. This sets the necessary stage for reducing the time spent on smartphones.

What is digital detox?

Digital detox is a term that is used specifically for unplugging and spending some hours without digital interferences. Since you cannot be locked up in a bar with your phone away from you, you’ll always have the itch to check your notifications or email just one more time. This traps you in an e-trap of addiction that arrests your fingers on the screen, preventing you from separating from your device.

Therefore, digital detox orbits around your voluntary self-control that aims to refrain from using your smartphone, computer, tablet, or electronic device. Tanya Goodin, founder of digital detox specialists Time To Log Off and author of Off explains the detox. She says, “It’s about becoming aware of your own personal challenges around screens, gaining an understanding of what will help you overcome them, and learning to live with technology in a way that’s healthy. People are always amazed by how different they feel after not being on their phones and that motivates them to want to keep going.”

It is essentially an opportunity to reduce stress and relax. Just as an accumulation of unwanted toxins can be harmful to the body and need to be eliminated, an excessive use of technology in your life can also leave a negative impact on your life. This calls for the need to limit the time dedicated to the use of tech.

Why do you need digital detox?

There is an extensive amount of research that insists on the need for flushing the unlimited use of electronic devices from your life. The negative implications of over-usage of smartphones and other such gadgets is not restricted to a single age group. Instead, it permeates to all ages including toddlers.

Here is an overview of the impact of technology use that necessitates the use of digital detox:

  1. Disrupts your sleep cycle

Blue light emitted from electronic gadgets disturbs your circadian rhythm. This is the inner biological clock that schedules rest and wakefulness. But the light from your device’s screen leaves the impression of morning or day light hours on your internal clock, leaving it disrupted, as it summons agility instead of slumber at night. 63% of people are not getting enough sleep, as this blue light from their phone messes up their sleep schedule.

Hardly half of the US population is getting the recommended hours of sleep. And the excess use of e-devices is recognized among the chief agents that cause sleeplessness. Such a situation calls for the need to limit the use of cellphones so that you can maintain a proper sleep routine.

  1. Interferes with your relations

It’s doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out. Hard as it might be to admit but technology easily slips in between human interaction and relationships. Smartphone addiction is real and it mercilessly kills live, face-to-face communications.

Levi Felix, co-founder of Digital Detox and Camp Grounded elaborates this addiction. He comments, “Every new notification or text triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards, so you keep coming back for more.” Since you cannot distance yourself from your screen, you can hardly forge relations outside the digital realm. Surprisingly, 1 in 3 people would give up their intimate relation for their phone. This pretty much explains that technology is indeed an obstacle in relationships.

  1. Compromises with cognitive functioning

Although numerous smartphone applications and instant updates in our mailbox promise to boost our cognitive functioning, there is always a question quizzing us. And this equation comes from the prominent debate, ‘Is technology making us dumber?’

There can be several arguments that can be presented both for and against this topic. However, the chief point of concern here is that technology addiction is sipping on our cognitive resources. At one point in our lives, we remembered numbers by heart. Today, it seems that it is pretty onerous to recall a number without relying on your digital number diary. Other apps are also working in such manner to weaken our cognitive performance.

Another key point to note here is that research highlights that technology also impairs the speech development of toddlers. Every 30 minutes of screen time takes a toll on a toddler’s speech development by 49%. Another study points out that screen use also hinders peaceful sleep among the tiny tots. It outlines that 1 hour of screen use takes 16 minutes of a child’s sleep. Proper rest is, however, essential for the brain development in kids.

  1. Social media encourages narcissism

A new study also indicates that social media plants the unhealthy seeds of narcissism. One of the study researchers, Elliot Pane explains, “Among young adult college students, we found that those who scored higher in certain types of narcissism posted more often on Twitter. But among middle-aged adults from the general population, narcissists posted more frequent status updates on Facebook.”

He adds, “It’s about curating your own image, how you are seen, and also checking on how others respond to this image. Middle-aged adults usually have already formed their social selves, and they use social media to gain approval from those who are already in their social circles.”

Relevant research

In 2015, CEO of Kovert Designs, Kate Unsworth conducted an experiment with her team of neuroscientists on 35 entrepreneurs, CEOs, and other influencers. The entire team flew to Morocco as part of their digital detox. The neuroscientists went undercover and made observations about the participants’ facial expressions, body language, and their behavior towards each other.

An article by Fast Company summarized the findings. Major ones include:

-Deeper friendships

The participant pool forged stronger friendships. With their eyes making direct contact, instead of being cast downward into their screen, the individuals were open to making more friendships

-Better posture

As part of their detox, the team also showed a better posture. Their bodies’ front opened up with their shoulder back and their head properly aligned with their spine. Unsworth commented, “A wonderful side effect of this is that people’s general energy opens up. They appear much more approachable when they enter a room.”

-Better conversation

With Google at your disposal, you tend to find the answer to any incomprehensible question within seconds, answer the question, and subsequently put an end to the chat. This was also observed among the participants. Their detox from the e-devices, however, encouraged longer conversations with each picking the other’s mind, asking more about questions/matters they didn’t know about, and the like. Thus, they were able to pursue longer, friendlier conversations.

-Better sleep

The participants were also able to fetch better and peaceful zzz. And they woke up refreshed. This finding is in alignment with studies that claim that the smartphone addiction follows folks before they go to bed, in the middle of their sleep, and as soon as they wake up.

-Improved memory

The study also showed that the participants were better able to remember obscure details such as the names of distant relatives taken in conversations. The neuroscientists concluded that, without technology, the individuals were more present in the moment, therefore, were able to store more information. In this case, there was technology to distract them.

Take home message

All these science-backed factors exhibit that obsession with technology needs to be toned down. To minimize the influence of technology in your lives, it is essential to observe digital detox for at least a few hours in a day and at the weekends. This will help you improve your attention span, memory, and allow you to sleep better. At the same time, the subtle differences provided by tech-free times will motivate you to develop stronger relationships.