Can you describe how to live a Healthy Digital Lifestyle?
Do you wonder if the time you spend with your digital devices is affecting your health and wellbeing? We all know OTHER people who appear to be totally addicted to looking at their phones or tablets all day, so what about you?
(This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy for details.)
This is a question that has popped into my head quite often, but I dismiss it because I love my work with technology.
Jumping back and forth between my iPad pro, a MacBook, and my iPhone all day long. I consider my digital life interesting and fun.
I don’t even want to consider life without all the conveniences the digit world provides.
Think of all the crazy things you can do on your phone or tablet.
Pay for groceries, get directions, order food, take pictures/movies, play games, play music, Google, shop, the list is endless.
You may be more involved with Social Media than surfing the web, writing a blog, or shopping online, but does it matter what the activity is, or is it just Screen Time we need to know more about. I am not big on social media, but the other examples are all about me.
The great myth of our times is that technology is communication. – Libby Larsen (Composer)
So I ask:
- How much time do we REALLY spend online?
- What are the signs of addiction problem?
- What steps we can take to be in control of our technology use?
How Much Time Do We Really Spend Online?
Here are some interesting findings of adults and digital devices.
According to research from comScore, adults spent approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes on their phones every single day in 2017! That is more time than we spend eating and drinking!!
Another source found Americans check their phone on average of once every 12 minutes – that means using their phones 80 times a day.
David Greenfield, Ph.D., of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine says average adult checks their phone 50 to 300 times each day!
You have to wonder how this is affecting productivity at work!! Actually, I don’t wonder, I think we all know the answer to that question.
What I need is a search engine that, no matter what I type in, comes back with GO BACK TO WORK.
– Dave Barry
There’s an App for That
The assumption is that we all use our phones and tablets way too much and it is causing all sorts of problems.
Apple just released iOS Screen Time. It isn’t really an app, but it gives you an awesome summary of actual screen time, where you are spending your time, features for parents, options for limiting your time and much more. I can’t say much more because it is so new.
Digital Trends reviewed 6 Screen Time Monitoring apps you may want to check.
So What is Addiction or Signs You Have a Digital Problem?
Addiction has more to do with how a device or substance affects your day-to-day life.
“It impacts the same area of the brain as drugs and alcohol,” Wong explained. “Still, it takes a lot for technology use to meet the definition of dependence. We call it addiction when it starts to impact day-to-day function, relationships with children, spouses, children and friends.”- Jessica Wong, Betty Ford Foundations
“About 1 in 8 people have problematic use of technology, they’re making less than healthy choices but they are not dependent,” said Wong. “About 1 in ten have progressed to level of dependence.”
According Health Journalist, Catherine Price, in her book How To Break Up With Your Phone when we read digital media, the cluttered landscape of links and ads and the short bursts of attention that are required by scrolling and swiping and tweeting result in a contradiction in terms: “an intensely focused state of distraction.“
And the effects of that distraction can be long-term. She goes on to say, “This type of frequent, focused distraction isn’t just capable of creating long-lasting changes in our brains; it is particularly good at doing so.”
Where Do You Fit It?
Have you noticed that you can be working on a project or researching online and find yourself checking an email you happened to notice, which included a link you thought you better see now? An hour later you remember your original task and realize you have accomplished nothing? You related to that, didn’t you?
I think this is what Catherine Price means by “focused distraction”.
A huge concern for me is the massive amount of time people spend on their phones and how unengaged they are with life around them.
We can all tell stories of how we were at a restaurant or event where we were disappointed by people using their phones all the time and not even looking at the people or even their surroundings.
Recently, I attended a conference that offered an amazing learning experience. The Speakers were wonderful and everyone in the room was very happy to be present.
However, as I looked around the room, you know what I saw. So many people looking at their phones! What are they thinking ???
I am guessing answering text messages or emails that just caught their attention, or saw a notification and thought they could multitask.
We all know that is just not true.
Enjoying surveys & quizzes, I decided to try the Smartphone Compulsion Test, developed by David Greenfield, Ph.D., of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
According to Greenfield, a “yes” answer to more than 5 out of the 15 questions indicates that a person likely has a problematic relationship with their mobile device.
I suggest you give it a try. You will immediately get a score with a description of what the score means
My score was: 7. The description is exactly what I would have predicted for myself.
I Changed My Password to Incorrect, so Whenever I Forget What it is, My Computer Says “Your Password is Incorrect!”-Unknown
Pay Attention to Physical and Mental Symptoms
Trouble concentrating or focusing?- We let our phones do all the thinking for us. Texts, contacts, we can google anything! Do you think analytically and problem-solve on your own? Try a crossword puzzle, or playing a game that is not electronic.
Does your vision get blurry after hours of screen time? This is necessary for many jobs! If you have symptoms like red, itchy or dry eyes, blurred vision, tiredness, back pain, neck pain, and headaches, it’s time to reevaluate your device use. You need to be taking a break every 20 minutes.
Do you bump into things? Be careful when you are walking around with your phone!! People who walk & talk or text are far more likely to be injured as a pedestrian. – Focus!!
Can the use of a GPS all the time be harmful to your brain? Using a paper map requires spatial intelligence, deductive reasoning, and perseverance. Certainly, don’t give up the GPS, but try a map for fun sometimes.
Do you have FOMO? Am I the only one who didn’t know what FOMO is? I hope not. (Fear of Missing Out). If you are constantly checking your social feed during every meal or when in a social gathering- you may have IAD( Internet Addiction Disorder) meaning a lack of impulse control. You may need to completely turn off your phone when you are with friends. – I know…
Want a Healthy Digital Lifestyle?
The term “digital detox” seems to be appropriate and there is a lot of helpful information available on how to live a healthy digital lifestyle.
Whenever society acquires a new technological skill or ability, there’s an unsettling period during which we’re besotted with the new technology, using it indiscriminately without understanding its effects.
There are many choices for your own Digital Detox. You don’t have to do them all, choose a few at a time that fits your lifestyle.
- Turn off notifications, especially banners and badges.
- Keep your phone on Do Not Disturb, so when you do use your phone it will be your choice and you avoid distractions of “dings”.
- Do not keep your phone on your bedside stand. Like most people, we don’t have a landline, so I keep my phone across the room for safety purposes
- Remove social media and game apps from your device.
- Have a weekend free of technology.- The whole family.
- Get an alarm clock. I like one that displays the time on the ceiling.
- Use airplane mode throughout the day.
- Pause and ask yourself what you plan to do before you get on your device.
- Leave your phone off while at sporting events or restaurants.
- Change your unlock code so you have to think before you get on your device.
- Set a time every day that you can be digital free.
- Don’t use any digital device at least 1 hour before bedtime.
- Leave your phone in another room while you read or watch TV.
- Make meals “tech-free,” especially when you are eating with your family.
- Read a book instead of using an electronic device.
- Don’t just open your phone for something to do.
- Be bored for a few minutes.
I’ll call it a smartphone the day I yell, “Where’s my phone?!”, and it yells, “Down here! In the couch cushions!”
I enjoyed the advice from Patrick Antinozzi in his video,
- Clean-up your phone in 15 minutes!
- You don’t need all those apps! Start deleting apps that you don’t use!- Clean up your phone!
- Decide if the apps you do use are really essential for your day to day living. If not get rid of them
- You can disable apps if you can’t delete them. (These are apps that are on your phone from the manufacturer.)
- Can you get your apps down to the 4 or 5 that you can have in your menu bar?
- You can always “tell” your phone what you need, you don’t need an app for that.
- My goal is to get down to Messages, Phone, Camera for my menu.
What About Kids?
Interestingly, Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids use the iPad when they came out. Also, Bill and Melinda Gates’ children had to wait until they 14 before getting their own phone. Read Are You Worried Your Child is Becoming Addicted to Their Mobile Device? to find more about the effects of technology use and children.
Take Charge! Detox!
- Smartphones, tablets, and new innovations are not going away, and we don’t want them to.
- The whole idea here is to be more purposeful about using your devices.
- No one is saying we should get rid of our smartphones and tablets. Moderation needs to be a conscious choice.
- Now it is time for you to decide what you want to do to control your screen time.
I would really like to hear from you and your insights into this topic of Digital Detox.