UK adults spend an average of 21.6 hours online each week (not including work) according to the annual Ofcom Media Attitudes Report 2016. Nearly nine in ten (87 per cent) of all UK adults said they use the internet (on any device) either at home or elsewhere, 7 in 10 own and use a smartphone and a staggering 99 per cent of adults have taken at least once selfie (unofficial report). Evidently we’re a screen addicted nation.
Our dependency on the internet, social media and technology is so great that a number of studies have seen a direct link to usage and an increase in anxiety and depression. Intense social media and internet use is distorting every day reality and ironically disconnecting us from the real world.
We spoke with award winning digital entrepreneur and founder and owner of digital detox specialists It’s Time To Log Off, Tanya Goodin, to find out how we can reconnect with the real world.
“Our use of technology has gotten completely unbalanced and we are now spending more time online than offline,” Tanya explains. “The evidence is mounting up through studies and reserch that this is bad for our focus, concentration, sleep and overall mental health.”
Internet and social media addiction disorder is a relatively new phenomenon but isn’t one completely unheard of. In fact this new addiction is such a global problem that the Japanese ministry of education introduced internet ‘fasting camps’ for over half a million screen addicted children. It’s not just children glued to their phones though.
“Adults now spend more than eight hours a day on screens, and check their smartphones more than 150 times a day. But you don’t really don’t need statistics to show you how bad it is, just walk down any street, look round any restaurant, everyone is on their phones - all the time!”
Hit the switch
Pressing the power off button might not be the easiest thing to do but the instant benefits of logging off will be immense. A digital detox will increase productivity, improve real life human relationships, help posture and most importantly boost mental health. Technology is so entwined in our lives how can we log off without feeling left out?
“Set boundaries around time and boundaries around place to help you log-off occasionally. Technology is a wonderful thing but our always-on 24:7 digital lifestyle is what’s causing the problem,” advises Tanya.
“Boundaries around time could be ‘no work email after 8pm at night’ and boundaries around place could be ‘no phones in the bedroom’ or ‘no phones at the meal table’.”
To find out about It’s Time To Log Off visit www.itstimetologoff.com.
How to detox from digital
If you can’t get through a day without religiously checking your phone then it may be time to have a digital detox. Here are more tips on helping with your digital detox:
Start with 24 hours
It won’t be easy, in fact it might be the longest 86400 seconds of your life but by going cold turkey you will familiarize yourself with being technology free. Start with 24 hours, then do evenings, then the full weekend.
Get a landline
According to Ofcom 14 per cent of UK households live in a mobile only phone with no landline. If you have self-diagnosed hypo-vibro-chondria (phantom phone vibration), a household telephone is much better for families, doesn’t run out of batter and is useful in emergencies. Plus you’ll stop being so glued to your handset.
Pick up a paper
Reading off a screen will inevitably damage your eyesight so read the day’s new in depth whilst supporting your local paper by actually buying one.
Remember your camera?
People allegedly take 1 million selfies a day. In fact more people have allegedly died from taking dangerous selfies than from shark attacks. Drop the phone and pick up your actual camera. It is definitely a more enjoyable way to capture the moment.
Have a social media cull. More than seven in ten (73 per cent) of internet users have a social media profile, according to Ofcom’s report, and to Mark Zuckerberg’s delight they are more likely to be on Facebook than any other social media site.
Keep bedtime for bed
The bedroom is for sleeping, so sleep! Forget scrolling aimlessly through Twitter and switch your phone off. Avoid temptation by using an actual alarm clock for your 7am wake up call.