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[January 2019] A Smartphone Addict? Time for Your Digital Detox
Date 01-29-2019 11:04 Hit253
A Smartphone Addict? Time for Your Digital Detox

The American company Ford publishes annual reports on trends worth noting. In the company’s report on predicted trends for 2019, “digital detox” came seventh. The report projects that the trend of pursuing happiness and well-being offline rather than online would grow into a worldwide trend this year. What is a digital detox? It can be defined as “deliberately taking rest from the use of digital devices, such as smartphones and desktop and laptop computers.” You are reading this article, after all, on one of your digital devices so that it may sound ironic. However, it is high time for us to consider digital detox for ourselves.

We wake up and sleep with our smartphones in our hands. The majority of passengers on buses or subways these days are on their smartphones. This phenomenon is not unique to any particular nation; rather, it is universal today. We have come so far that we cannot imagine what life would be like without digital devices. Digital technology may have done much good to humankind, but it has come at a certain expense. Smartphones have revolutionized our daily lives with the convenience of advanced technologies, but they have also become a source of new ills. Constant exposure to blue light coming off a smartphone screen, for example, facilitates skin aging. It also interferes with the release of melatonin, which is crucial to our sleep cycle, thereby compromising the quality of our sleep. It may also be blamed for a temporary decline in brain functions. If you find memorizing a single telephone number difficult, you may have a case of the so-called “digital dementia.” Staring into smart device screens while seated is the main culprit for the forward head syndrome (FHS). Being away from smartphones and social media even for a slightly extended period may subject you to the anxiety attacks of the fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) syndrome.

These symptoms are increasing the number of people trying digital detox worldwide. People who try it yearn for mindfulness by getting smart technology out of their physical systems and minds, albeit temporarily. Susan Maushart, an American columnist, shares the experiences she and her family members had with going off digital devices for six months in her book, The Winter of Our Disconnect (2011). In her book, she offers a few tips to try during digital detox:
▶ Make at least a day of the week an Internet-free day.
▶ Keep bedrooms off limits to smart devices.
▶ Do not envy others who upgrade their smart devices.
▶ Do not bring smart devices to dinners.

These tips are simple enough that almost all of us can try starting today.

Another good way to ease digital detox is to adopt different hobbies, such as reading paper books or newspapers, which we can try during our commute instead of staring into smart devices. If you have the urge to tweet or chat with friends through instant messaging, perhaps you may write your thoughts down into a notebook instead of picking up your smartphone. There are even mobile applications nowadays that help smartphone addicts lessen their dependency. As people are so preoccupied with their smartphones even at gatherings and parties, it has become a trend for people attending such occasions to leave their phones in the same spot so that they would not have to hold them. It may be impossible to outgrow all digital devices at once today, but digital detox begins when we make conscious efforts to lessen our dependency on them.