While people are more connected than ever before, many are lonlier, more isolated, anxious, low self-esteem and depressed. Mobile devices and social media can lead to psychological and physical problems. The negative impact is more significant on young children and teens. Many people will reluctantly admit that their use of technology can be seen as borderline addictive. With the advancements in technology and the almost daily changes, it can become increasingly more difficult to satisfy the need for this so-called addictive stimulation. Like the analogy of addiction, anyone who is unaware of the effects that technology has on them may benefit from a “digital detox” to re-evaluate how they feel with and without digital technology.
Cutting back the use of devices and screen time may produce withdrawal symptoms like the features of other forms of addiction. While digital technology can be an agent for good in terms of transferring learning for educational endeavors or staying connected for interpersonal relationships, frequent use of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can trigger feelings of low self-esteem and depression. The likelihood of the experience of mental health issues is greater if the individual already has experience of mental health problems. A “digital detox” is an effective tool to combat the incessant needs (either consciously or unconsciously) to browse social media platforms for comparisons of our life to the lives of others or for seeking for affirmation and/or validation.
The best detoxes are done with structure, limits, boundaries, and consistency. Structure “no technology times” especially around family activities, dinnertime and bedtime. Limit your use of technology by looking for ways to balance it with non-tech activities. Set clear boundaries of where technology can and cannot be used, i.e. the bedroom dinner table, family gatherings, etc. Most importantly, like with the acquisition of any new skillset, one must consistently practice to reinforce this new learning. Just as smartphones, smart TVs, and smart apps were developed to alleviate stress, a smart “digital detox” break is needed to prevent the mental and physical problems that can arise from overindulgence.