Digital Detox

Digital Detox Guide –

Digital Wellbeing
Nov 08, 2022

    Break Your Phone Addiction

    Are you addicted to your mobile device? This guide will show you how to cut the cord and break your phone addiction without going completely offline.

    What is Digital Detox (and why does it matter)

    The information that whelms us for an hour on the Internet has exceeded many times the knowledge of the world that our ancestors had received for a lifetime two centuries ago. Nowadays, you can find the answer to nearly any question that pops into your mind, watch live streaming of current world history-making events, or video chat with your faraway family members, friends, and co-workers.

    But does consuming technology interfere with your everyday life? Are you investing all your thoughts in it instead of in school, work, or relationships? Are you eager to check your notifications every minute or passively scroll through content on social media?

    If your answer is yes, it may be time for you to consider a digital detox.

    Studies prove that excess tech use is getting in the way of your wellness, and you might need time to refrain from using electronic devices for some period. This way, you can reduce stress and focus more on interaction with others.

    Moreover, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the use of digital tools is heightened, particularly during remote work. A research paper published in June 2021, “From cognitive overload to digital detox: Psychological implications of telework during the COVID-19 pandemic”, analyzes the relationships among digital work tools, cognitive overload, digital detox measures, workplace performance, and well-being. According to the study, working from home increases flexibility but also brings mental challenges, including the need to use digital devices more frequently.

    Due to these factors, digital detox has recently become popular as a recovering method from digital-related stress. In our guide, we provide you with information, pieces of advice, and resources that will help you achieve a better balance in your life.

    Digital Detox History

    Users have been concerned about the adverse effects of screen time on their mental and physical health since the advent of the World Wide Web. Records show people have attempted to spend time away from devices for over 20 years:

    As concerns about excessive screen time grow, so is the impulse for digital detox.

    In 1998 with the invention of the World Wide Web, many psychologists and anthropologists predicted the preoccupancy with the Internet. For ten years in which restlessness and anxiety were constantly increasing while using digital devices, in 2008, China was the first country to announce this state as a mental illness.

    Researchers have been continuously expressing concerns about the impact of social media on adults and children’s brains. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis and nationwide lockdowns, people have been inexorably using digital technologies at an increased rate since 2020. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, the brain looks for non-social stimuli to induce dopamine release. We are now relying on digital detox as part of our daily routine.

    When do you need Digital Detox?

    The Internet and social media have undoubtedly expanded our point of view and simplified our lives. They provided us with the immense opportunity for connections outside of our community. Web 2.0, in particular, has turned billions of people into creators and has allowed access to information much faster than before. These are all positive effects on mental health.

    Additionally, social media can act as an early indicator of psychological issues based on publication behavior. For example, researchers can easily use it as a reliable source of inferiority-related data, as stated in a scientific report from March 2022.

    However, social media has its dark side because it has an engrossing focus on our digital lifestyles and might cause or increase many mental health conditions. Such disorders are more likely to occur in people who spend too much time virtually.

    Because it is easy to become absorbed by your devices, a digital detox is an effective way to improve yourself. 

    You will need digital detox if you feel particularly any of the symptoms below:

    • Addiction to social media – You cannot control how long you use your phone. Time often passes in scrolling through content without you noticing.
    • Feelings of inferiority and decreased self-esteem – Social media makes you set unreasonable goals and have a lower sense of well-being when comparing yourself to others. Psychologists often identify this complex as the cause of eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
    • Lack of connection – Dr. Steve Rose, a licensed addiction counselor, writes that social media has shifted human communication, making us more connected but less social. The more you use social media, the more you experience higher rates of loneliness.
    • Anxiety and depressive symptomsThe problem of digital burnout has become widespread, and it might be related to both your leisure and working time. Spending too much time on your digital devices can make you feel exhaustion, anxiety, depression, or diminished interest in your job.
    • Deterioration in concentration and other symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – We have long known that repeated interruptions interfere with concentration and impact productivity.

    How to Reduce Screentime

    Digital detox often means fully disconnecting from all screens and devices. However, according to Dr. Carol Vidal, M.D, Ph.D., ditching technology altogether is not going to work for most people, so cutting down seems more feasible. Strive to be offline for at least a few days, and then assess the time you spend online.

    We from The Good Phone Foundation have put a list of strategies with which you can experiment. They will help you develop your plan since what constitutes healthy technology use varies from person to person. 

    Consider reducing anything that makes you feel stressed or eats from your precious time. Identifying unhealthy habits helps you get a clear picture of your phone usage and review it. 

    Here are the five steps we chose for you:

    • Turn off unnecessary notifications. 
      Every notification and its vibration are a distraction that interrupts your current activity. The best thing you can do is turn them off. Most of the time, these are ads or warnings you never read anyway. Once you do it, you will notice that you are staying more focused, and your productivity increases.
    • Cut down video games. 
      We are living in an exciting era where technology’s capabilities are limitless. Video games are developing and becoming more and more exhilarating with each day. Moreover, blockchain completely changed how developers and players perceive the virtual world, where you can be part of different gaming universes and sell your assets. Overall, VR/AR simulations and gamification give you reasons to spend time in cyberspace, but you also have to control that urge and cultivate mindfulness.
    • Maintain a daily schedule when you take time away from screens. 
      Screens are hard to avoid if you work at a computer, so taking a break is even more vital. You have most probably heard of the term “Zoom fatigue” and even most probably experienced it. Erin Eatough, Ph.D., advises stopping multitasking while having an online meeting at all costs. It can burn additional mental energy, leaving you feeling exhausted. Reduce distractions and set time in your calendar to remind you to go for a walk or to eat lunch away from your desk. Leaving your phone behind will be the best option.
    • Break away from technology regularly. 
      Occasional breaks can help you reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality. If there is any app that prevents you from spending quality time, you should consider deleting it. Be mindful of your actions – whether you check your notifications when you wake up or send emails before bed – decide if it is the proper time to engage in them, and postpone them.
    • Consider contacting a mental health counselor. 
      It may be time to seek professional assistance if you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above in the “When Do You Need a Digital Detox?” section and your behavior with technology or certain apps and sites starts interfering with your daily functioning. You will receive proper advice from mental health specialists on how to deal with depression and anxiety.

    The Potential Challenges and the Upsides of the Digital Detox

    Our ultimate guide unquestionably helps you beat technology addiction. As many upsides the digital detox has, it brings some potential challenges, too. We will specify them in two separate lists below to help you build a better strategy for healthy technology use. Once aware of them, you can plan wisely, and the digital detox process will be easy.

    The Potential Challenges of the Digital Detox

    The potential challenges you could meet during a digital detox vary from one person to another. You should prepare for them and write them down – later on, your list will help you better understand your impulses and how productively you address your addiction. 

    It is hard not to share a moment with your online friends. 

    If you decided to switch off your phone for some days, craving it is understandable because you get used to spending a lot of your time online and sharing moments of your life. Your brain will pressure you to give in to your addiction. Most likely, you will experience phantom phone syndrome. You will feel your phone vibrating in your pocket or hear it ringing. Psychologists claim it is a result of increased stress levels, which cause sensory input misinterpretation. It is important to remember that you will experience these symptoms during the very first stages of digital detox, and you will get better once they disappear.

    You will be isolated from the information. 

    Social media has been a source of sharing news. While you cannot fully trust the content there, it is no secret that social networks impact governments and create massive political movements. Before you start your digital detox, you should consider other sources of information not to be in complete darkness, especially if you are an active citizen in your society. 

    As more time you spend in digital detox, the bigger the email storm is later. 

    If all you do is check your emails every five minutes, you should give your brain a proper rest – hide your phone, bury your tablet, unplug your laptop, and go on a vacation with no internet. You should carefully assess how much time you will need and plan it. Afterward, notify all your colleagues and friends and leave an automatic Out-of-Office message. You can delegate access to your mailbox – therefore, you will not be entirely buried by emails and anxious when you return.

     The Upsides of the Digital Detox

    You will feel better once you cope with the potential challenges and complete your digital detox. 

    • You are less anxious and more focused. Researchers have pronounced concerns that the increasing social media use has hindered our focus to a large extent on top of feelings of depression and anxiety. A digital detox can help you tackle mental health problems and strengthen stress management skills. It will make you feel better about yourself while getting a longer attention span.
    • Having more time means feeling more productive. Social media poses a notable distraction even if you turn off your notifications or silence your phone. During your digital detox, instead of spending time in infinite scrolling, you have time to do something offline – read, go for a walk, meet with friends, etc., and improve your well-being significantly.
    • You are more enjoyable to be around when you live in the moment. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships published a study in 2012 examining mobile devices’ impact on face-to-face communication. According to the authors, having a phone around interferes with intimacy between two people. Before practicing digital detox, you may have obsessively checked your phone for new social media updates during meetings. A technology break will strengthen your relationships, which is one of the most rewarding benefits.
    • You will notice that the quality of your sleep improves. Many of us check for new content and messages after getting in bed, fully realizing that devices emit blue light that interferes with our sleep hygiene. While in digital detox, you discontinue the unnecessary technology use and stop feeling restless. You will reduce health risks by resolving this issue and improving your sleeping environment.
    • You can think about ideas and improve your creativity. Experts have long claimed that excessive use of digital technology hinders our ability to innovate. When devices distract you, they destroy your concentration, and you do not get enough time to focus on your concepts. A digital detox will help you be more self-aware and be a better problem-solver.
    • You show greater self-discipline. You feel rewarded when you show enough willpower to beat technology addiction. Setting your goals before you start digital detox is one of the most significant actions. After you fulfill them, you experience greater self-discipline and will have the courage to withstand your impulses and possibly any other addiction.

    Children and Digital Device Use

    Children take visual cues from their parents’ gaze from infancy, and it helps them form a secure attachment. According to a 2017 study, infants and toddlers living with their parents who were excessively using mobile devices experienced higher levels of distress and were less likely to explore their surroundings. Parental disengagement and unresponsiveness can harm their social-emotional development. The wellbeing of your children depends on your presence and self-awareness as a parent. However, digital technologies play an integral role in the daily lives of families, including the widespread use of the internet and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. It is easy for children to slip into digital addiction, which can implicate their mental health issues

    Research on children’s engagement in global mobile activities as of September 2021, conducted by Statista, shows approximately six in every ten used mobile devices to play video games. In comparison, it is common to complete school assignments on mobile devices for 46 percent of the examined kids. Due to their inactive lifestyles, children overusing technology face many problems: sleep deprivation, eyestrain, and musculoskeletal disorders, on top of troubles with social skills. Regular physical activity for children will help them improve their brain health, manage weight, and strengthen their bones and muscles.

    Children may have personal phones so parents can easily contact them. In this case scenario, Jennifer Kelman, a licensed clinical social worker, advises downgrading from a smartphone and removing distractions – a simple call or text features will be enough.

    Beyond Digital Detox

    If you are addicted to digital devices, it is not your fault. The tech industry encourages compulsive behavior, famous as intermittent reinforcement – the term descends from research conducted by the psychologist and behaviorist B.F. Skinner in the 1950s. He believes it yields the greatest effort from the subject since the reward is delivered irregularly. The intermittent reinforcement makes sure you will keep coming back to something. You have probably noticed the push notifications of a social media app when you have not opened it for a while – it just reminds you of its existence and suggests you scroll for new content. Developers designed each platform to keep you engaged with rewards of a dopamine rush at irregular intervals. 

    Another big reason for digital detox and minimizing interaction is your privacy. Various apps track your location and preferences and share this information with marketing aggregators. Moreover, search engines like Google index serve up to anyone that looks for it and can access your full name, email and home addresses, and often more, depending on what you gave out to sign up for an account.

    You can consider reducing your chances of getting hacked by deleting apps you do not need. As many as 800,000 apps on the Play stores can be Trojan horses to your phone. Despite appearing harmless and legitimate software on the surface, Trojans contain malicious code that can cause damage to your device. They can delete your files, install additional malware, steal your personal information, etc. To detect and avoid viruses check your apps , scan your devices regularly, and use a VPN on public Wi-Fi networks. 


    For many of us, a digital detox begins with reestablishing a healthy relationship with our smartphones. Create your strategy and start your process with the steps above and enjoy more quality time, better focus, and productivity. 

    You do not need to go completely offline for weeks ahead, but you should always practice a digital detox once in a while when you feel your self-control is slipping off. 

    You have taken a step that most tech addicts would never take toward overcoming their addiction to digital devices. In contrast, you will enjoy a host of life-enhancing benefits that will be beyond their reach.

    Are you ready to put your devices aside?