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ColumnsTime to take digital break, rejuvenate

Time to take digital break, rejuvenate

Published: 10th Aug 2021 12:02 am

A handful of people and technology companies through their choices are unethically steering what a billion people are thinking today. We are in a phase where data exploitation is at its peak where vast amounts of data are generated. It’s not just a post or tweet, it’s all about your data, lots of inferences, it’s about your interest, your ethnicity, your friends, your personality. Your data is mined all the time and it can be potentially harmful, if used unethically.

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Smartphones have dominated all our lives and interests due to their increased functionality and ease of use and access, with just a few clicks away. However, the negative aspects of smartphone use, such as smartphone addiction, have recently been brought to notice by psychologist, psychiatrists and civil societies. Existing reports from various countries have shown that, two thirds of these individuals do not leave their home without their smartphones in hand.

There are a lot of benefits when we take a digital break. It reduces stress, reduces FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), improves sleep habits, helps maintain work-life balance, and allows for a more positive life perspective

Data on Social Media and Internet Consumption in India 2020:

* 1.39 billion (Indian population)
* 624 million active internet users (44% of population, with an Increase of 47 million when compared to 2019, i.e. 9% rise)
* 442 million active social media users (32.3% of the population, with an increase of 78 million when compared to 2019, i.e. 21.2% rise)
* Average internet consumption is 6.36 hours, average across all devices

Few signs that tell you might need a digital break:

* Often feeling anxious or stressed out if you cannot find your smartphone
* Often feel compelled to check your smartphone every few minutes
* Often feel depressed, anxious, or restless after spending time on social media
* Often preoccupied posting, comments, re-sharing, liking, and expecting others to also do the same for your posts
* Often you find yourself staying up late or getting up early to play/stay on social media on your smartphone
* You experience trouble concentrating, without having to check your smartphone
* You check your smartphone for every notification that comes to you.

Do we need a digital detox?

* Improves your mental health: Detoxing from digital devices is often seen as a way to focus more on real-life social interactions without any distractions. We are seeing hostile withdrawal symptoms, when smartphone or network is unreachable. (a) Anger (b) Tension (c) Depression (c) Irritability and (e) Restlessness.
* Improve your physical health: Staring at smartphone screen for hours together creates an impact on physical health (Texting Neck and Texting Thumb), pain and discomfort for prolonged usage causing migraines, headaches, and vision problems (eyes begin to burn and itch, blurred vision, eye fatigue etc.,) and constant use of smartphone will keep you away from sleeping well at night.
* Stop comparing yourself with others: Our sharing culture has created a definite compare and despair factor online. If you are spending more time on social media, you may compare your own life with your friends, family or a stranger, because of the tiny, curated glimpse you see on their Twitter, Instagram or Facebook posts.
* Improve your attention span: Prolonged smartphone usage causes attention deficits, indirectly resulting in less productivity, it is the internet and digital addiction. Critical thinking and analysis skills are important for us to grow professionally and personally.

Tips to take a digital break:

* Disable notifications on your smartphone, It keeps you informed of what you are supposed to be informed, It makes you do what you don’t want to do and it makes you feel what you don’t want to feel.
* It is important to set boundaries, make your bedroom a smartphone-free zone.
* Charge your device outside the bedroom.
* Access social media from your computer instead of your Smartphone and it’s recommended you set a social media schedule.
* Keep only important tools on your home screen.
* Keep your phone away during meals with friends and families.
* Do device-free meetings, no phones, and tablets, and engage in social conversations with one another.
* One reason our devices are so alluring is that they’re vibrant (in colours), it’s recommended you use Grey Scale mode on your Smartphone.
* Track your usage using the “Screen Time” App on iOS Smartphones.
* Track your usage using the “Digital Wellbeing” App on Android Smartphones.
* Make Use of Productivity Apps that are available on App-store and Play-store.

Conclusion

Go old school of thought, for centuries, we survived without smartphones and life was progressing positively. Fortunately, many real-life tools exist that can replace your smartphones, and here are few alternatives to consider like:
– (a) Paper calendar or day planner
– (b) An alarm clock to wake up
– (c) Read physical books
– (d) Regular watch
– (d) Regular camera
– (e) Use land line phone when at home

(The author is the founder of End Now Foundation, www.endnowfoundation.org)


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