When I trek in the Himalayas, I find my smartphone almost useless. It can get me nowhere, and it is of virtually no use because there is no signal and no internet above a certain altitude. But I’ve to carry it because when I descend, I need my phone to reconnect with the world I left behind.
The days I spend in mountains are natural digital detox to me, not by force but after an informed decision to trek in an area out of reach of the noise.
I think altitude is the key. Where all kind of digital cacophony ends and you are able to connect with yourself.
This can be achieved in this networked world too. We can implement digital detox in our life with simple decisions.
That’s to say; we can make a rule not to use our smartphones when we learn something, listen to someone, writing and reading something, doing something productive. And it is not shunning the device to ‘forget’ it for something more exciting.
Digital detox may be a luxury for ordinary people, but very customary rituals can achieve that.
How Not to Be a Screen Slave
Here are a few rules that can be employed to claim minutes and hours of your life back.
Smartphone cleansing: Delete apps you don’t genuinely use.
Set your Screen to grayscale: Colors keeps us busy with our phones. Turn on grayscale mode. It is a built-in feature in iOS and Android.
Turn off notifications: Notifications are anxiety. Leaving a few vital, turn off every one of them (unless you are a social media manager).
No Screen Time: Fix a time when you will not check your phone- an hour or two every day.
Time for News & Email: Stop mindless scrolling and bring the attention back to yourself and outside world. Check and respond to emails or news at a fixed time.
No Phone in Morning and Night: Keep your phone away from the bed. Don’t check it an hour before sleep and an hour after you get up.
Put your phone face-down- Preventing yourself from looking at your phone’s screen.
Get a Dumb Phone — Try feature phone, not optimized for internet or heavy app usage.
Use Voice Assistants — Save you from opening your phone and becoming distracted.
Pick a Note App — Use notes app for writing like Evernote, Workflowy, Notability, Keep, Simple Note, or Apple Notes.
Listen to Podcasts — Add an engaging, informative, and inspiring podcast to your routine.
Earlier, as I took my smartphone in my hand, where did my 20 minutes go, I did not even remember. Now, this does not happen. I use very simplistic methods in dealing with the yearning for the mobile phone.
Is the Screen an Addiction?
Smartphones can become detrimental if we ignore their misuse by our own hands.
Researcher Katharina Berr in her Thesis Slaves to Our Screens? discussed problems of user and smartphone relationships.
Some technologists claim that they don’t want their children to use the technology they produce. In a New York Times interview, Steve Jobs told that his children do not use iPad: “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
But a few years later Kevin Dixon, Ellis Cashmore, and Jamie Cleland in their book Screen Society (2018) claimed that “There are no screen addictions, nor addiction of any kind associated with our use of screens.” Their stand was based on the idea that addiction would demand an alteration in the brain of the addict, which is not a proven case with screen usage.
But many experts disagree with their conclusions. Tech addictions is an area of study emerging fast. Even Purdue Global University is offering a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in Addictions to learn about new trends and techniques to help society.
Some studies show screen time impacts child development and mental and physical health.
It positively affects sleep duration and decreases sleep efficiency. Doctors warn that blue light emitted from the Screen disrupts the melatonin hormone production, which controls the body’s internal clock. This clock is responsive to light. Our bio clock is most sensitive to blue light emission.
Other than sleep, obesity is the result of spending a significant amount of time on screens. It can also induce anxiety and depression.
In a nutshell, despite all benefits and advantages of smartphones, experts are increasingly identifying them as a potential risk for physical and mental health.
It is possible that cases of people reaching hospitals due to the overuse of mobile phones come up after a few years. But it is certain that smartphone screens have transformed us into people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
So, if you think that it’s others who are misusing their online life and time, think again.
Just open Screen Time or Digital Well Being app. Don’t be surprised. Act decisively, for yourself.