Reducing your screen time can lower stress levels and dramatically improve your quality of life and relationships with others. Here we look at six easy steps to a successful digital detox.
Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, with many of us spending unhealthy amounts of time glued to our screens. If left unchecked, excessive smartphone use can have serious impacts on your lifestyle and wellbeing, sometimes even requiring internet addiction treatment.
Excessive use of digital devices has emerged as a growing issue in Asia, particularly among young people. One 2014 study found that Singapore has the highest rate of smartphone penetration in the world, with almost nine in 10 Singaporeans using mobile devices. A survey carried out in the Asia-Pacific region in 2015 found that the average person in the 16-30 age group spent 2.8 hours per day on their mobile phones. In Singapore this was found to be significantly higher, with Singaporeans spending 3.4 hours per day on their smartphones.
In truth, the problem could be even more severe. Research carried out by psychologists in the UK suggests that we spend much more time on our smartphones than we think; daily usage among adults was closer to five hours per day with many people checking their phones dozens of times daily.
The extent of the problem has led psychologists in Singapore to call on medical authorities to recognise internet and smartphone addiction as a disorder and to take steps to provide support to those who need it.
While medical authorities and private rehab clinics around the world are doing excellent work in the fight against smartphone addiction, excessive use of devices can also be counteracted with a simple digital detox at home. Taking a break from smartphones is on-trend these days, with celebs like Selena Gomez digitally detoxing and enjoying the many positive benefits that life without constant internet access can bring.
Switching off your smartphone, PC and other devices can be surprisingly liberating. Here are six easy ways to cut down on your screen time:
Set Limits for Yourself
One of the best ways to start with a digital detox is to reduce the amount of time you spend online each day. For most of us, our smartphones are the chief culprits as they are with us all the time. Turning your smartphone off, or setting to airplane mode, during key daily activities such as mealtimes will give you a valuable break from your device. You may also consider limiting your evening usage to set limits of 30 or 60 minutes.
Turn Off Notifications You Don’t Need
While there are certain messages and notifications we simply do not want to miss, very often most of the updates we receive on our mobile devices are non-essential, or at least can wait until later. Most app developers want us to use their products and like to flood us with notifications. The next time you receive a message asking whether you want to receive notifications from an app or service, ask yourself whether your really need them. It is also a good idea to do an audit of existing apps, turning off all the notifications that are not essential.
Keep Your Nights Smartphone-free
Studies have shown that 84 per cent of smartphone users in Singapore sleep with their device in reach, and 47 per cent check their phones when they wake in the middle of the night. Not only can this ruin a good night’s sleep, it can add unnecessary time to our daily smartphone usage. Setting your smartphone to ‘do not disturb’ mode at night will ensure a restful night’s sleep while keeping the alarm function active. Also try to avoid checking your phone first thing after you wake up. Get ready for your day and spend some quality time with family before entering the online realm.
Take a Holiday from Your Screen
To enjoy the true benefits of digital detox it is best to take a break from your devices for a few days, or even weeks. While this can be a daunting prospect – and often impractical because of professional commitments – planning a trip where you can leave your devices behind can be extremely rewarding. Camping trips, yoga retreats and other rejuvenating breaks spent without smartphones and laptops can give you new perspective on how digital devices are affecting your life. While the first couple of days of a complete digital detox can be a little strange, you may be surprised at how quickly the urge to constantly check your phone recedes.
Use Tech to Reduce Your Screen Time
Smart use of software and apps can help you significantly cut down on screen time. There are a number of excellent apps to help you control your smartphone usage by blocking notifications, tracking your daily usage and allowing you to set daily limits. Some will even lock down your phone when you reach your limit, or set your phone to shut you out during certain times of the day.
Embrace The Real World
One of the greatest complaints about excessive digital device usage is that it is detrimental to one-on-one human interaction. If you think you spend excessive time in the online world, try to devote certain times of the day to real-world pursuits. If you work at a computer, it is a good idea to focus on non-screen based hobbies and activities in the evening and at weekends. And do not just limit yourself to interacting with your friends and family with Facebook likes and IM emojis. Tell them what you are doing and how you feel face-to-face.
While the internet and mobile technology has transformed our lives in many positive ways, excessive use can have serious psychological and physical effects. Digital addiction can manifest in a number of serious symptoms, including the constant need to check your phone, loss in productivity in studies or at work, or difficulty forming real-world relationships.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Internet or smartphone addiction, it may be time to take action. The Cabin Singapore offers expert counselling and support to treat all behavioural addictions including excessive use of mobile devices, social media and the Internet. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.