Think about how technology has changed our world. Information that once only existed in a written format is now literally at our fingertips. We settle conversational disputes with a quick check of Google. We rely on GPS to navigate a new city instead of pulling out an atlas (which, for the record, they still print). We take pictures and share them almost immediately, instead of waiting to print them off and paste them in a photo album. And one day in the not-too-distant future, we may be riding around in self-driving cars.
It’s a brave new world, indeed.
Always On, Always Connected
While “always on always connected” describes a feature of numerous apps and tech devices, it also describes the state of our tech-driven world today. More than 64% of American adults own a smartphone, tablets are increasingly popular, and we’re able to be connected to our office email and social media wherever we go.
At What Price?
The price of technology isn’t measured in dollars and cents anymore. It’s feeling that little buzz in your pocket, even when your phone is on the table. It’s comparing your life to the highly edited lives of those on your social media feeds. It’s feeling like you aren’t ever really off the clock, checking emails even on the weekends, and being available to your coworkers even while you’re at home.
There are numerous other concerns associated with always being connected, too:
- Sleep disturbances caused by the blue light emitted by smartphones
- Poor posture associated with sitting at a computer for long periods of time
- Neck and spinal issues such as “text neck”
- Psychological issues such as FOMO
- Repetitive strain injuries
Why a Digital Detox is a Good Idea
While we pride ourselves in being able to multitask thanks to our tech devices, the fact is, we’re not as productive as we like to think we are. Scientists call this phenomenon “popcorn brain,” and it’s a natural outgrowth of our tech-heavy society. In fact, studies suggest that our tendency toward 24/7 connectivity is actually rewiring our brains.
Many experts recommend a digital detox from time to time, just to give our brains and bodies a chance to rest and reset from the technical onslaught. While there is no prescribed length to such a detox, research indicates that a minimum 24-hour period of disconnection can boost creativity and problem-solving skills as well as have a positive impact on your overall health.
How to (Temporarily) Step Away From Your Tech
Even if you feel like you can’t sacrifice 24 whole hours to disconnection, there are things you can do to improve your life both online and off:
- Limit your exposure – certain times or hours “off limits”
- Turn your email push notifications off – check email at set times
- Invest in an alarm clock instead of relying on your smartphone to wake up
- Turn your social media notifications off
- Set boundaries for your work communications
- Experiment with blocking out a length of time to be offline
It might seem counterintuitive for a tech company to be offering suggestions for taking time away from your devices, but even tech workers recognize the need to de-stress from our screens. The holidays are a logical time to explore a little digital detoxing, since there are plenty of opportunities for social interaction, visiting with friends and relatives, and new things to see and experience. Being present in the moment without feeling the need to document and share it could be one of the most relaxing parts of the season.