Internet Addiction Disorder. This is a real malady, but one that most of us never learned in our college psychology classes years ago. When Apple released the first iPhone over ten years ago, a new kind of connectivity took hold of people. While the introduction to smartphones ushered in countless conveniences, like constant access to GPS, weather forecasts, and a plethora of information at our fingertips, it was also responsible for an unprecedented addiction to technology. People no longer had to wait until they were in front of their computers to check email, or to post an update to social media. Suddenly, we could work at all hours in odd locations, connect with friends wherever they were, and share with the world our most mundane thoughts and photos. This was a game changer, but one from which we’re only now beginning to see the fallout.
So, the first question is: Are you addicted to technology? Are your cell phone, tablet, smartwatch, and any other portable devices that you use running your life? Can you not go more than a moment without snapping a picture, checking your email, posting to Instagram, or adding an item to your Amazon cart? Is your dependence on your devices interfering with your life? Sleep? Then you might actually have an issue. But even if your near-constant use of technology isn’t classified as a clinical problem, it might still behoove you to take a break.
According to King University, “people tap, swipe, and click an average of 2,617 times per day. For the top 10 percent of users, this number doubled to 5,427 touches per day.” Furthermore, studies have shown that iPhone users check their phones every ten minutes, on average, and that they unlock their phones up to 80 times a day.
Entrepreneur reports that you might show signs of addiction if you reach for your phone first thing in the morning, if you turn to your device when you’re bored, and if you become anxious when your phone is out of sight.
Ok, so we know we’re all addicted, but what can disconnecting actually do for us? For starters, disconnecting from the opinions of the world will give you some quiet time to sit with your own thoughts. We are constantly bombarded by the updates and articles of all of our friends, and our friends’ friends, that it can be difficult to know what information is even coming organically from our own minds.
Becoming Minimalist cites these other benefits for disconnecting:
- It helps “remove unhealthy feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness”
- It “combats the fear of missing out”
- It allows for solitude
- It allows us to be in the moment, and experience the world around us
- It permits us to create, rather than consume
- It reinforces just how addicted we are. (You don’t know how much you “need” something until it’s taken away)
- It allows us to interact with people in the flesh, with real eye contact
So how do we do this? There are some easy changes you can make to your daily routine that can help curb your dependence on technology and the Internet, and then there are harder ones that you can consider:
- Keep your phone on silent mode, without vibration
- Remove notifications—yes, you can live without a banner popping up every time you receive an email, Facebook message, or a like on Instagram!
- Sleep in a different room from your phone
- Be active in ways that don’t involve your phone, like taking a yoga class, going for a walk or a hike
- Put your phone on do not disturb mode when you’re with friends and family
- Want to take it up a notch? Put your phone on airplane mode when you really want to enjoy the company of others
- Delete all social media apps from your phone
- Leave your phone at home when you go out of the house for short periods of time
- Avoid checking your phone prior to going to bed. Doing so will allow your brain to power down and will allow for sleep to come more easily
Do you know of others tricks for disconnecting for a bit? Let us know in the comments!