Is it time for a digital detox? Image by Adobe Stock.
In today’s technology-driven world it is the norm to spend hours on our phones and in front of screens. In fact, you could almost say that our smartphones have become an extension of our hands and quite often, our phones are the last thing we look at at night before we go to sleep and the first thing we look at when we wake up. Even if we are not on our phones, a general source of ‘relaxation’ is to turn on a streaming service such as Netflix and to binge-watch our favourite shows. But what is this constant exposure to technology really doing to our brains?
In the modern world, technology has rewired our brains and changed our physiological responses, making us think differently, feel differently, affecting our memory, attention spans and sleep cycles. This is a scientific phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to alter its behaviour based on experiences.
Some cognitive behavioural experts have praised technology stating that technology has given us the ability to organise our lives much easier, freeing up our minds for deeper thinking. However, others have slammed technology, stating that it can turn off the creative side of our brains and making us impatient when it comes to dealing with anything analogue. Some studies have shown that technology has altered our brains in such a way that we now dream in colour, due to being exposed to colour TV. When researching this theory, scientists asked groups of over 55’s about their memories dreaming while they were growing up, most of which remember dreaming in black and white before colour TV was widely accessible.
Whether you believe technology enhances your life or stunts it, like with anything debatable you could look at both sides and understand there are both good and bad aspects technology brings. However, in this instance, we are here to explore why a digital detox is good for your health.
Your productivity will increase
It’s hard to argue that having your phone accessible when you are trying to work or get a task done is beneficial. Smartphones are the easiest source of distraction, especially when you are a fan of social media. Removing your phone from sight and without the distraction of notifications can increase productivity and enable you to focus on your task at hand. There are apps that can help you achieve more productivity when needed if your need for distraction overruns your ability to focus.
Your sleep will improve
When your body knows it is time to sleep it will release a chemical called melatonin but studies have shown that when you look at a screen before bed it tricks your brain into thinking you need to stay awake, which prevents melatonin to be released and decreasing your ability to fall asleep easily. Try switching your phone off an hour before bedtime or putting your phone on charge in another room of the house to avoid pre-bedtime scrolling.
Your mental health will prove
FOMO or fear of missing out is rampant in the social media realm. Unfortunately, people put a fraction of their lives on social media to give the illusion of a well-lived life, but quite often this isn’t the truth. People will only put on social media what they want you to see, so that FOMO feeling when scrolling through a feed can make you feel like you aren’t living your life the way you should, also giving you negative feelings relating to wanting what someone else has, or looking a certain way. Understanding this concept will improve your mental health and make you realise that everything isn’t always as it seems.
Your physical health will improve
Usually, when we are scrolling through our phones or watching TV we are sitting on a couch or laying down in bed. If we designate a specific time each day to put our phone away and instead of scrolling or watching, go for a walk or a run and connect with nature and the ‘real’ world around us.
Your relationships will improve
If we are stuck in the cyber world for too long, our real-life social interactions can take a big hit. Often people with gaming addictions will spend their entire social life online, connecting on a virtual level rather than a personal, face-to-face level. It is important to not let yourself get too distracted by the pleasures of cyber reality and instead enjoy the benefits of social interactions with real-life people.