Updated: Feb 5
Photo credit: Pexels
Eliminating technology in today’s digitized environment seems nearly impossible. Many questions prevent us from even trying, even though we may know that it’s become a problem for us. How will I work? How will I stay connected to friends? How can I drive without Google Maps? What will I do while I’m sitting in line at Starbucks, waiting to order?
Fear prevents us from plunging into the unknown – detoxing entirely from technology. Is it possible to give up technology in today’s climate? What are the mental health benefits of doing so? Here’s what the experts say –
The Effects of Electronics on the Brain
Technology is a broad term that is better defined by the use of smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices. With improvements in technology, we have increased our connectivity and ability to find information. Though it seems as though an improvement in knowledge seeking and sharing would make us more intelligent, it appears to have done the opposite in many circumstances.
It’s the reason why so many of us panic when we forget our phones at home and are trying to find a friend’s house. Or why we struggle to remember an important piece of information without having access to Google. The easy access to information has made us dependent on technology for learning, and less likely to employ our brainpower to solve problems.
In many cases, automation has been helpful. Businesses have been able to automate manual processes and improve productivity, students have more research at their disposal, and we can reach out to people across the world in 5 minutes. At the same time, this easy access to information has overloaded our brains, making it more difficult to use critical thinking skills and solve our problems.
Effects on Health and Mental Health
The effects that social media has on mental health have been widely discussed, but the effects of technology as a whole are still being researched. Best assumptions include –
· Increased isolation – Technology increases online connectivity, yet makes us less likely to speak to people in everyday life.
· Depression and Anxiety – People with negative interactions online and those who used technology more frequently had increased rates of anxiety and depression.
· Physical Health – The increased eye strain, glare, and brightness affect our physical health. Poor posture caused by hunching when using a computer has also been another common health problem.
· Reduction in Physical Activity – Technology makes it easier for us to connect and look up information, which in turn makes us less likely to go places to find information and connect. It also makes us more isolated and depressed, which increases our anxiety and reduces physical activity.
· Effects on Children – Children are still developing, which is why technology use seems to be especially detrimental to them. They have decreased creativity, delays in social development, poor sleep quality, higher addiction rates, and delays in language development.
A Tech Detox
A tech detox may seem like a horrifying concept, particularly for those who work with computers or use social media to interact with friends across the world. Only a person can decide for himself whether or not to detox entirely from technology. If technology or social media has become addictive, negatively impacted our health, or is causing us to procrastinate, it may be time to take a break. Some tips include –
· Let friends and family know what’s going on and for how long. Tell them how to reach you.
· Decide which devices you will give up. This could either be some of them, all of them, or parts of them (apps, social media, etc.)
· Deactivate rather than delete social media to avoid temptation. This way you can easily restore the apps when the detox is over (if you want to by that point!)
· Set limits on phone use. If you have to use your phone for work, only limit it to certain times, hours, and circumstances.
· Buy a “dumb” phone that can only be used to text or call. These are usually inexpensive and still have the necessary features to communicate with others.
· Start an exercise program
· Start a new hobby
· Buy maps, print out directions, and start planning for travel
· Buy a camera for taking pictures
· Keep a journal to track your progress and discuss any feelings
The Impact of a Tech Detox
Most individuals who have detoxed from technology felt much better after the initial withdrawal phase. They could think more clearly, interact better, and had decreased anxiety and depression.
They also had improved memory and were able to concentrate for longer periods. They had a greater appreciation for real-time events and were more likely to take pictures because they enjoyed the experience.
Many of these individuals never fully went back to technology, at least not to the extent they did before. Remember that we survived with technology for thousands of years, with many of us growing up without it. You can survive a few weeks – perhaps it will pleasantly surprise you.
Do you struggle with addiction to electronics? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.