5 Signs It's Time for a Digital Detox

By , SparkPeople Blogger
These days, it’s almost impossible to escape the constant barrage of emails and text messages from friends, family, co-workers and just about everyone else on the planet. You’re bombarded with updates on social media—everything from pictures of the new kitten your third cousin just adopted, to what your favorite celebrity ate for lunch. You feel lost if you miss a day on Facebook or an episode of "Game of Thrones," and your friends wonder if you’ve dropped off the face of the earth when you take more than a few hours to “like” their recent posts.

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years ago, you probably didn’t have a Facebook account or a smartphone. Maybe you had an email account that you checked occasionally, but you’d never heard of texting or apps. There was no DVR, so if you missed an episode of your favorite show, you’d have to wait for the rerun. Times have certainly changed.

Do you wonder how this came to be? How did we suddenly become a society that has to be connected to everyone and everything at all times through our phones, TVs or computers? Do you remember what life was like when you got up and walked over to a co-workers desk to have a conversation instead of emailing or instant messaging them? Can you recall a time recently when you had a few minutes to sit quietly and relax? Did you sit and do nothing, or did you use that time to jump on your phone and check a few emails or check Instagram? Do you remember what it’s like to unplug and just be in the moment?

If you feel like technology has taken over your life, you’re not alone. The term “digital detox” has risen in popularity over recent years. It doesn’t mean you have to close your social media accounts, swear off the "Real Housewives" and send everyone letters via snail mail. It just means you step away from all of the busyness and distraction that technology can bring to your life for a while.

If you're unsure whether or not you need a digital detox, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you always eat your meals with your phone sitting on the table, staring at you as though it is waiting for you to finish?

2. Do you find yourself checking email and Facebook and responding to text messages constantly, never taking the day off?

3. Is there never time in your day when the phone, TV or computer are off-limits?

4. Do you ever get frustrated with yourself for spending so much time online, when you should be doing other things?

5. Is technology a source of distraction from your kids, your partner, your friends or others around you? Do they ever complain that they don’t have your full attention?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then consider the idea of a digital detox. Your detox could be anything from a few short technology breaks throughout the day to longer breaks of a few hours or more. These breaks don’t mean you have to sit around and do nothing. Instead, they are a good opportunity to reconnect with those around you, or even yourself. Get started by keeping track of how much screen time you get per day. Then look for some easy ways to start slowly reducing that amount.
  • Instead of sending an email to someone you haven’t heard from in a while, call and ask them out for coffee.
  • Designate 20-30 minutes each day to read to your children in a quiet place where no TVs or phones are allowed.
  • Leave your music at home for your next walk or run. Use that time to think and listen to nature and other sounds around you.
  • Designate one “tech-free” evening each week in your household. Play board games, cook a new recipe, play a family game of dodgeball in the backyard, or plan your next weekend getaway.
  • Instead of gathering the family around the TV each week to watch a show, use that time to read a book together. Take turns reading pages of "Harry Potter," "Alice in Wonderland," "Tom Sawyer" or other classics of interest.
If finding time to exercise, meditate, cook a meal or do other “extra” things that are important to you is a struggle, a digital detox could open up pockets of time throughout your day that you never realized you had. On average, Americans check their smartphones 46 times per day. Imagine how much extra time you’d have if you cut that number in half! 

A digital detox not only frees up time to do other things, but could also improve other areas of your life. In one study, half of the respondents said use of social media sites had changed their behavior, with half of those participants saying the impact had been negative. Research also shows that more time with computers and phones can make us gain weight, and not just because we’re more sedentary, but because of their negative effect on our sleep cycles. Additional studies demonstrate that constantly using technology is actually rewiring our brains, limiting our ability to focus.  

Consider a digital detox as a way to improve your health and your relationships with others. It doesn’t have to be much, but cutting back your TV time or checking your social media accounts just a few times a day could be just what you need to refocus and reprioritize your life.

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CKEYES1 7/27/2020
Do not eat with my phone Report
IMUSTLOSEIT1 11/19/2019
I still have a Flip phone, and it usually is either in my purse, DEAD, or on the kitchen counter, DEAD. or by my recliner, DEAD. Even my kids wonder why I have one, as it is always DEAD somewhere. And I just tell them I only use it when I drive someplace in case I have car trouble. Then I charge it up before I go. Only have use it once for that reason. lol I think they are the down fall of families, as when we do get together they are always on those darn things. Report
CHERYLHURT 10/30/2019
Great Report
TERMITEMOM 10/27/2019
My cell phone is a god sent for keeping in touch with family (most of them live overseas). I do not have accounts with social media (except for Spark), and I never watch TV. Report
1CRAZYDOG 10/27/2019
My only social media is SP. I do it when I am done w/what needs doing. Thanks for the tips! Report
LINDAW1207 10/27/2019
I just started this month to detox from online. Monday thr Friday I only get to go online once my goals are completed for the day. Amazing what I'm able to accomplish since I started this reward system. Saturday and Sunday I do get online in the morning. Report
MAREE1953 10/27/2019
Having podcasts, information and answers to any question you can imagine in the palm of your hand is truly amazing. It's an entirely different world. Having a smartphone has enhanced my life and I'm grateful for all my SP friends Report
LRCOTE 10/26/2019
LOL! This is totally funny. I couldn’t manage to add my phone to my knitting and Watching TV. Report
DMEYER4 10/26/2019
thanks Report
RAPUNZEL53 10/26/2019
Interesting Report
RCLYKE 10/26/2019
sure can. always wonder what people did with their hands before they had a cell phone glued to them Report
AZMOMXTWO 10/26/2019
thank you for all the info Report
NANCYPAT1 10/26/2019
A lot of justification going on. If you need to justify the maybe it applies to you. If you say to yourself, that's ridiculous - it probably indicates you aren't in need of a detox. Not every word applies to everyone. If it doesn't apply to you, doesn't mean that others don't have a problem. Had a speaker at our county schools last week on internet safety for kids - it said that they are seeing many 8-13 year olds addicted to pornography and sexting. My reaction was shock - I can't imagine unlimited access to internet use by kids that young - where are the parents? Report
NANCYPAT1 10/26/2019
A lot of justification going on. If you need to justify the maybe it applies to you. If you say to yourself, that's ridiculous - it probably indicates you aren't in need of a detox. Not every word applies to everyone. If it doesn't apply to you, doesn't mean that others don't have a problem. Had a speaker at our county schools last week on internet safety for kids - it said that they are seeing many 8-13 year olds addicted to pornography and sexting. My reaction was shock - I can't imagine unlimited access to internet use by kids that young - where are the parents? Report
DVR’s appeared on the market in 1999, 17 years from this article date of 2016, where is she getting the 10 years ago they didn’t exist. Texting started earlier but didn’t gain widespread popularity in US until 2001 at which point there were 30 billions messages each year. By 2006 there were over 7 billion messages each month. I really wish research would be confirmed before these articles are written, it makes other points seem invalid when the background research is incorrect.
I do not do TV, just not interested, but I really don’t think of patting myself on the back for it, it is just something I dislike. I live alone now, and am not a spring chicken, so a mobile phone is a good idea while working on a farm alone. I did get a smartphone 3 years ago, and only started texting then. A quick text is often a way of staying in touch when a long phone call is not possible, and all my family is 6 hours away. It is great to share pictures with my nieces, brother and my 93 yo Dad who also has a smartphone. With anything out there, weather it be food, electronics, exercise, reading, quilting or hiking, moderation is the key. Report
PATRICIA-CR 10/26/2019
Great reminder. Without the phone, maybe. Without my laptop and internet, probably not. Report
PIKA1319 10/26/2019
It's not hard, I do it every day. The phone goes to work with me for work stuff, but I basically ignore it once I get home. I spend maybe an hour per day or less on Instagram, that's it.

I had to do without internet & phone (could text & call, but that's it) for almost 3 months after a major hurricane (Michael, y'all might have heard of it...). Imagine the horror, LOL Report
RAPUNZEL53 10/26/2019
Great Report
CHERYLHURT 10/26/2019
Thanks Report
NEPTUNE1939 10/26/2019
ty Report
NEPTUNE1939 10/26/2019
ty Report
HEDSTS58 10/26/2019
I'm not on social media much. I read an article recently about a detox center for teengers for their cellphone addiction. I think it was in Japan. Report
LEANJEAN6 10/26/2019
My Social media is just "Spark" too Report
EMGERBER 10/26/2019
Often I turn my cell phone off, it is so easy to use up so much time doing really nothing on your cell phone. Report
FITWITHIN 10/26/2019
Not additive at all. No social media accounts, but SP. Report
FERRETLOVER1 10/26/2019
I love the convenience of my phone...but I am not addicted to it. Report
SUNSHINE-GIRL 10/26/2019
I dont have a smart phone, I have an 18 year old Nokia that takes calls and texts. I do have a computer but limit myself to around 2 hours a day after lunch to check emails, banking, SP, FB and play a couple of games. Report
-POOKIE- 10/26/2019
All phones are banned at table here. I loved my 5 year old telling my FIL off for getting his phone out! Report
LIS193 10/26/2019
Thanks for the reminder Report
JANIEWWJD 10/26/2019
Loved this article!!! Report
CD24848958 10/26/2019
Thank you Report
NASFKAB 10/26/2019
The fact that I waste a lot of time on my laptop is true so any advice might help Report
NASFKAB 10/26/2019
The fact that I waste a lot of time on my laptop is true so any advice might help Report
Several times a day Report
F/B is a no, no. No TV at meal times, not even in the same room. Phone only when I need to

We are so habituated we don’t notice when we could be doing better things Report
Very true article. Report
Everyone should find a digital balance. Report
Many times I and my cell phone are not in the same place! Report
I quit social media & have been much happier. I don't miss it at all. I rarely use my phone. I mainly use it to text my husband or to schedule appointments. I find it sad when I go places & see how many parents are missing out on time with their kids because they are paying more attention to their phone. My children even commented on this problem today when we were at the zoo. There were so many kids running around being naughty while their moms or chaperones were busy on their phones. Report
To all my Catholic buddies, we can fast from digital media and offer that up for the petitions of the Sacred Heart (or whatever). I have enjoyed being on Facebook as I am a lonely widow, but I have learned to unfollow the constantly negative folks, and put it in another room before going to sleep at night. And visiting people--that's an essential, as well as many times a work of love and mercy. Happy 100th anniversary of Fatima today!!! 🌹🌹🌹❤️❤️❤️🙏ð
Ÿ½ðŸ™ðŸ½ðŸ™ðŸ½ Report
Great article.................Thank You. Report
Great article! I'd like to get back to spending less time on social media and more on life. Report
What does this have to do with losing weight and fitness? Report
Having a smartphone is a blessing and a curse. It makes it easy to keep in touch, track workouts and keep my life organized. However, the constant beeping and updates can be distracting. I just try to put my phone on silent and just keep quiet at times. Could I live without it? Maybe, but I believe that it is about moderation. Report
My husband and I do not have a smartphone, nor do we want one. We like our land line just fine. We do have a cell phone (Tracphone) that we use if our land line goes out. It is just a regular dial. Report
I'm probably one of the last of my generation to get a smart phone, lol (got my first one secondhand a year ago, when I was 31). I just couldn't care less about being on my devices when out of the house... I'm out of the house to see and do things, after all.

I do have a nicer phone now, but I'm still not constantly on it.

I'm not on Instagram or Twitter much, I blog on Wordpress 1-3 times a week, so right now my huge problem has been Facebook. I love connecting with geographically distant family and friends, especially now since I've moved overseas. But I was spending so much time on it that it was eating away all my time and preventing me from doing other things! So I'm taking a Facebook detox and only visiting for about 5 minutes once a day. I've gotten a LOT more done! Report
I lived without a cell phone for a year (New Years Resolution) and since then I've never needed a cell phone with me at all times. I have one but I usually leave it at home and while I do have times I use it a little too much, I live without it most of the time. If someone needs to reach me they can leave me a message/text and I'll get back to them when I have a minute. It does not rule my life, I do! Report
"you’d never heard of texting...There was no DVR"

Not sure what planet you were on 10 years ago, but there most certainly was texting and DVR in the dark ages of 2006.

I honestly can't even take this article seriously given those assertions. Report
I like the underlying premise of the article, but it seems like an oversimplification of a complex subject. Here are some of the "pros": because of failing eyesight, I can read more easily on an electronic device. When I travel, one device serves as phone, computer, alarm clock, timer, music player, video player, Spanish-English dictionary, camera, and substitutes for games and puzzles! My DD home schools 3 children, and their devices give them access to mind-expanding resources of many kinds. When I was age 9-12, I read for hours and hours, and yes, I was a couch potato. Is there a big difference?

That said, I do think being tethered to these devices is a behavior worth avoiding. I try to only check email 2-3x daily, and I don't necessarily answer immediately. I check Facebook 2-3x a week. If I sit down to play a game, I usually set a timer. And I am "off line" for an hour before bedtime. But that's me. I have definitely seen groups of people in a restaurant or other public space, where everyone is on his or her own phone or tablet. And this is not limited to the under 25 demographic.

Great article.