10 Aug 2017
August 10, 2017

Techno-anxiety? Need a Digital Detox?

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This is certainly not a new subject of discussion yet it remains profoundly relevant. I became inspired to some review of the research when recently on a weekend morning a loved one checked their phone first thing upon waking then flipped on the news. Talk about triggers, I went to another room and sat quietly to ferret out what I was feeling. Instantly I felt anxiety, resistance and irritation. We are overloaded with incoming stimuli and compulsive in our use technology in a way never experienced before in history. Over the last five years, we have witnessed the growth of apps, articles, new stories, camps, vacations and retreats aimed at those dependent on or addicted to digital devices.

Exactly what is a “digital detox” – per Google, “a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.” Levi Felix, the founder of DigitalDetox.org and Camp Grounded, popularized the term. Felix and his work have been featured in innumerable publications from The New York Times, Vogue and Wired. He has also appeared on CNN, FOX , PBS and BBC Nightly News. It is hard to wrap the mind around, this proclivity for digital technology. It is a phenomenon that tips the scales to where people prefer to interact with technology rather than people.

Gene Block, a bio-behavioral scientist and Chancellor at UCLA, asserts that we now sleep less because of the exposure to the lights of our gadgets. Exposure to the ambient glow reduces melatonin, which regulates sleep, decreases leptin that makes you feel full and, at the same time, increases gherkin, which makes you feel hungry.  Overuse of technology also contributes to obesity in that it lends itself to a sedentary lifestyle.

To be truly mindful of the costs of the explosion of device use and our obsession with digital technology we have to ask what is it doing to our health (not to mention how it impacts a child’s health)? Numerous sources report that excessive use of technology contributes to neck pain and bad posture, negatively affects attention span, increases bullying, stunts imagination and decreases self-esteem.  It is no secret, clinical studies show the negative effects of technology are linked to poor sleep, obesity,  mental health issues and declines in cognitive capacity .

Be more mindful of the time you spend using technology…check yourself.

  • Do you keep your phone in hand or close to you all the time?
  • Is checking your phone the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?
  • Do you check your phone constantly, mostly without reason?
  • Do you engage with your phone at social gatherings instead of talking to the people around you?
  • Do you take your phone with you to the gym and into the bathroom?
  • Do you ever let a day go by without using your cell phone?

Your brain needs a break, as does the rest of your body. See if you can be mindful of the time, you spend using technology. If you spend more time on your phone that you do talking to real people it could be time to reconsider your relationship with Siri. One good rule of thumb is making the bedroom a tech-free zone. How about a device free day or weekend? What about a no device policy when you share a meal with friends or family at home or out. Creating balance will help you enjoy the benefits of technology without losing touch with the rest of your life.