By Dr. Haris, Board-Certified Medical Practitioner
In this era of digital advancements, imagining a life without tech devices is quite daunting, even impossible. However, where technology has made life easier for us, it has made us prone to something we call ‘digital addiction’.
Eyes glued to the screens; hours of scrolling through the never-ending reels; the constant urge to check email notifications, texts, and social media updates – seems like we are intricately woven into the virtual world and some unseen power is making our thumbs scroll.
Spending too much time on digital platforms not only overwhelms our senses, leaving us physically, mentally and emotionally drained but also keeps us from interacting with the real world out there.
Amidst this virtual chaos, it has become extremely challenging to strike a balance between online and offline lives. There is a need to take intermittent breaks from the allure of digital devices, and practice something like a ‘digital detox’.
What is it, why we need it and how to do it – everything is explained below. Hope you find some valuable insights from this blog.
What is Digital Detox?
A digital detox is a voluntary effort to abstain from the screens and digital distractions for the sake of prioritizing personal wellness and reconnecting to the tangible, real world.
Such a type of detoxification has become the need of the hour as more and more people are now admitting that their digital devices have gained control over their lives. According to the latest statistics, 61% of the global population is addicted to the screens and internet while this proportion is even higher (73%) among teenagers. A study showed that 44% of the young lads confess that they struggle to take a break from using their tech devices. 
Digital Disease – Why Do You Need to Ditch the Smart Devices?
There are plenty of reasons why you need to drop down the lids of your MacBooks and turn over your phones for a brief time. The constant connectivity and the allure of digital platforms and smart devices have not only altered the way we interact with the world around us, but have also raised several concerns about our physical and mental well-being.
Tech and its Intimate Relation with Mental Health Problems
Many reports have been published claiming the negative influence of technology on our mental health. For instance, a 2021 study published in the Journal of Addiction Biology found significant associations between the use of digital devices and high anxiety and depression scores among the subjects.
Similarly, the 2017 annual stress survey done by the American Psychological Association, has reported that around one-fifth of the adults living in the U.S. believe that technology is a significant source of stress in their lives. This is attributed to various stressors, like excessive screen time, the continuous pings of notifications, the social comparison with the virtual community, etc.
The excessive use of smart devices, particularly at bedtime, also affects the quality and duration of sleep. A study published in the journal of Sleep Health has claimed that 70% of adults use electronic social media at bedtime and 15% of them do so for an hour or more while in bed. Researchers reported an increased likelihood of insomnia, anxiety and shorter sleep duration among the subjects.
Less Physical Activity Means More Health Problems
Sitting all day with eyes glued to the screens also impedes physical activity which not only alters our body composition but also makes us susceptible to various health problems. Individuals with smartphone addiction have been found to possess a higher fat mass and lower muscle mass which can lead to adverse consequences, like obesity and cardiovascular diseases. 
Shortening of Attention Span
Digitalized lifestyle has also negatively affected our abilities to stay focused and concentrate on things. A research conducted by Microsoft in Canada has made some shocking claims. It concludes that since the year 2000, the attention span of humans has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds (shorter than a goldfish), and over-reliance on technology is one of the main culprits behind it.
Embracing the Benefits of Digital Detox on the Mind and Body Wellness
Taking a break from the virtual world and practicing digital detox can have profound beneficial effects on your body and mind. It will;
- Improve your mental health and reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
- Increase your attention span
- Allow you to have a good night sleep
- Allow you to better focus on things, thus, increasing your productivity and work efficiency
- Help to reconnect with the people and world around you
- Offer a chance to go out there, do some exercise and live a healthy life
Art of Digital Detoxing – Practical Tips for Reconnecting to the Real World
I know many of you are already familiar with the concept of digital detox and might have also tried it many a time but with no success. A day or two of abstaining from the devices, and you are back to where you started, the same old you with head stooped over the phone, scrolling for hours.
Well, it’s not about complete abstinence from the digital world, it’s about creating a balance between online and offline lives. Although it is hard, it is doable. Follow these practical tips for digital detoxing to improve your personalized health and wellbeing, and reconnect to the real world.
- Turn off the Notifications – Disable all the notifications of non-important applications on your device. You don’t need to get notified for every ‘Like’ you get on your Instagram picture but you definitely want to get the push notification of the email from your supervisor.
- Specify Device-free Zones – Designate tech-free areas at your home and vow not to use your digital devices at these places, like on the dining table, or maybe in the bedroom.
- Delete Distracting Apps – No need to keep those non-productive applications that are a continuous source of distraction for you. Or, at least, remove them from the home screen and sequester them at places where they are not directly accessible.
- Turn ‘ON’ the Airplane-Mode – The Airplane Mode is not just for use on planes, it can be very helpful when you do not want to be disturbed, for example, while studying, sleeping, or spending time with your family.
- Utilize Time-Monitoring Features of Apps – Almost all social media apps have a usage or time-monitoring feature. Turn it ON and specify a time limit after which the app will automatically stop working, setting you free.
- Adapt Offline Hobbies – Lastly, the most important thing! Find some source of joy in the real world. Socialize with the people around you, observe nature, or develop a hobby which does not involve screens, like painting, book reading, gaming, etc.
In this era of digital devices, a ‘digital detox’ is a way out from the virtual world and helps in reclaiming personal wellness. The addictive nature of screens makes us prone to various mental health problems, sleep disruptions, shortened attention spans, etc. Embracing practical steps like disabling notifications, creating device-free zones, and pursuing offline hobbies can allow us to reconnect to the real world.
Other articles written by Dr. Haris:
- 20 eye-twitching tech addiction facts for 2023 [Internet]. [cited 2023 Oct 9]. Available from: https://webtribunal.net/blog/tech-addiction-facts/
- Ye J, Cheng S, Chu X, Wen Y, Cheng B, Liu L, Liang C, Kafle OP, Jia Y, Wu C, Wang S. Associations between electronic devices use and common mental traits: A gene–environment interaction model using the UK Biobank data. Addiction Biology. 2022 Mar;27(2):e13111.
- Bhat S, Pinto-Zipp G, Upadhyay H, Polos PG. “To sleep, perchance to tweet”: in-bed electronic social media use and its associations with insomnia, daytime sleepiness, mood, and sleep duration in adults. Sleep Health. 2018 Apr 1;4(2):166-73.
- Kim SE, Kim JW, Jee YS. Relationship between smartphone addiction and physical activity in Chinese international students in Korea. Journal of behavioral addictions. 2015 Sep;4(3):200-5.
- McSpadden K. Science: You now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish [Internet]. Time; 2015 [cited 2023 Oct 11]. Available from: https://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/
Hello fitness enthusiasts! I am Dr. Haris, a dedicated certified medical practitioner, and a professional freelance medical writer with many years of experience in medical writing. My journey includes a noteworthy stint as a former house surgeon at Mayo Hospital Lahore, and now I am pursuing residency training in the field of cardiac surgery.
Being a doctor, I always find immense joy in sharing valuable insights, guiding individuals on the path to optimal health. I am proud to be a part of the Blufashion team, where I contribute by reviewing and writing articles related to everyday health and wellness. Our commitment is to empower Blufashion readers by disseminating accurate health information.
Connect with Dr. Haris on LinkedIn.