10 hours and 39 minutes – that’s the amount of times the average American spends consuming media each day. Want some more startling statistics?
- The average person looks at their cell phone 46 times per day
- 73% of Americans admit to going online every day
- Of that 73%, 21% admit to going online constantly
- On average, Americans spend 4.5 hours each day in front of the TV
One thing that all of these statistics have in common is that they point to the same fact: Americans are dependent, and perhaps even addicted to consuming media. While technology has its benefits and many believe that it helps us to be more productive, too much technology can actually be harmful to your health.
Four Reasons for a Digital Detox
Here are four reasons why you should go on a digital detox.
You’re less productive
One of the main reasons why we turn to technology is to help us increase our productivity. E-mail, texting, and instant messaging allows us to connect with several of our friends, family, and colleagues at once without ever having to be physically present. We can also multitask by sending instant messages, listening to the radio, and conducting research on a topic all at once without ever having to leave our desks!
However, and as surprising as it may sound, an overload of technology can actually HURT your productivity. This practice of constantly being connected has taught us to always be available. So, whenever we receive any type of message, we feel the need to respond right away, even if it takes us away from our task at hand. The result? A task that would typically take an hour ends up taking at least two to three times as long to complete.
Your physical health has declined
Technology is supposed to make us productive and free up our time. Especially with access to online workouts and downloadable health apps, our health should be at its peak, right?
We’ve become so addicted to our technology that we don’t know when to stop. We often skip going to the gym or engaging in outside activities because we’d rather stay home and binge watch Netflix. Or maybe technology has made it so easy to stay connected at work that you don’t know when to stop checking emails. Regardless of where you fall, chances are, you’re constantly plugged-in and therefore, distracted from being more physically active in the day and sleeping at night. This can cause several health issues including:
- Weight gain due to inactivity and cravings for unhealthy food caused by sleep deprivation
- Issues with the neck and spine from constantly sitting
- Vision problems and headaches from staring at screens all day
- Hearing problems from listening to audio with headphones
- Wrist and hand related issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome from constant typing
- Acne caused by the bacteria on your phone against your cheek
- And in men, possibly a reduction of sperm counts due to radiation exposure from a laptop on your lap or a cellphone in your pocket
Your interpersonal relationships have weakened
How many people did you talk to on Facebook, e-mail, text or call today? Now, when was the last time you saw all of those people? In most cases, we talk to dozens of people through technology each day, but we rarely ever see these people in real life. In some cases, we’ve never even met them (and may have no intentions of ever doing so). While technology is great at allowing us to stay connected especially with friends, family, and colleagues who may live far away, on the other hand, it is severely damaging our interpersonal relationships. It's now very easy to avoid in-person visits with others since we can just stay connected through technology. When we do spend time with people, it can be a struggle to communicate and connect personally, due to distractions like constantly checking our phones, watching TV or playing computer games. All of these activities often get more attention than the friend we're visiting.
Technology has also been shown to have severe negative impacts on romantic relationships. By putting too much emphasis on the relationships of couples seen on TV or through social media posts, you can develop unrealistic expectations for your own relationships.
Your mental health is suffering
Too much technology has been linked to depression. Spending too much time with technology and not enough time outdoors or with others can make us feeling lonely. It also causes us to look inside the perceived lives of others as shown on Facebook, Instagram, Television, and other outlets and to compare ourselves to them. When we compare ourselves to others, we often fall short especially since we fail to realize their lives are not as perfect as they seem to be online.
In addition to causing depression, too much technology can also cause an increase in stress and anxiety levels. When you’re always connected, you’re more likely to feel the need to constantly be available, even if it means working off-hours around the clock which in turn can cause elevated stress levels and eventually lead to burn out. You could also struggle to sleep at night, fearing that you’ll end up missing an important e-mail or message overnight.
When doing a digital detox, most people find that they are better able to relax. It forces them not to worry so much about their e-mails and messages and what’s going on in the world in technology. Instead, they are free to focus on themselves and their own personal well-being.
Make it your goal to turn off the technology every night and gradually increase your time spent free from gadgets. Even if only for a few hours, you'll see that the positive benefits resulting from a digital detox far outweigh the inconvenience of not having your phone on you at all times. You might even find that the more you do it, the more you'll crave it. And before you know it, you'll be able to break your dependency and addiction to technology in no time.