Time for a digital detox?

Should we be cutting down on screen time?

It’s getting harder and harder to not live your life behind a screen. From the moment we reach for our phones in the morning to turn off the alarm, to the last check of Facebook before bed — we’re always plugged in. Devices act as a time warp. Just looking at your phone for one notification can turn into a hour of browsing things you’re not even interested in. Debates between friends are quickly shut down by a Google search and Wikipedia article about an old 80s band.

What happens when we find ourselves unconnected? When we’ve run out of battery or loose signal in a tunnel? Should we really be embracing the space rather than panicking? There is always a bottleneck of people at the cinema exit checking their phones as if they’ve been off the grid for a year. We see our gadgets as our connection to world when actually they can act as an obstacle.

A phone or tablet in front of your face can act as a physical barrier to the outside world. With a screen obstructing your vision from your surroundings it’s easy to miss beautiful things around you or a lamp post straight in front of you. Even though everyone says that they can multitask and can listen to someone talking to them while scrolling through Instagram, deep down they know that this isn’t true.

This culture of distraction and tech-dependence means that it makes it more difficult to make connections offline. Everyone is becoming more comfortable with making initial introductions online. So comfortable in fact that it is becoming the norm. Whether that is in their personal life through dating apps or online forums or in the professional realm through email and LinkedIn.

That’s why I created Chatzoome, an icebreaking app which helps people make new friends in an easy and non-awkward way. The concept of the app is to link like-minded people who are in the same location so they can meet up and have a proper conversation in the real world. The app only allows users to send a maximum of three messages to each other so they have to meet in person to continue to chat.

The idea is that you’re using the very technology which normally pulls you away from people and into the online world to help you find someone else who wants to make a genuine human connection in the real world.

Going cold turkey and completely ditching your phone or tablet might be almost impossible in this connected age but using devices to your advantage to live in the moment surely is the best way to utilise tech and find a healthy middle ground.