Time for a digital detox?

We’re more connected than ever – globally the average person spends around 7hours a day on the internet. This raises the question, is connection through excessive tech use impacting on our health and wellness? If we’re spending more time on devices and social media, it takes time away from other things – like sleep, exercise, and socialising –  and that’s going to affect our health.

What’s more, it’s changing how our brains work.  This research review in 2020 into the brain health consequences of digital technology use noted the link between extensive screen time and technology use and heightened attention-deficit symptoms, impaired emotional and social intelligence, technology addition, social isolation, impaired brain development and disrupted sleep.

Its not all negative though, the same report also observed certain apps and games may improve memory, multitasking skills, fluid intelligence and other cognitive abilities.

So, if you’re thinking 7 hours a day on the internet sounds like an awful lot and maybe it’s causing disruption in your life – affecting your work, relationships, mental and physical health, or finances – it could be time for a digital detox, or at least, a digital reduction. Here’s a few things to look out for to back this up:

  • You feel compelled to check your phone every few minutes
  • You feel depressed, anxious, or angry after spending time on social media
  • You’re preoccupied with the ‘like’, ‘comment’, or ‘share’ counts on your posts
  • You’re afraid you’ll miss something if you don’t keep checking your device
  • You stay up late or get up early to play on your phone
  • You have trouble concentrating on one thing without having to check your phone

For most of us getting rid of technology use completely is not going to happen, and a reduction is more realistic. Here’s some tips to help you cut back:

  • Schedule in tech free time: If your work is dominated by screen time, schedule in some time away from your desk, go for a walk or take lunch away from the desk, without your phone. Choose a time at night to disengage with your phone, use the Do Not Disturb function, or put your phone in a place away from the bedroom
  • Turn off notifications: If the constant ‘ding’ of social media notifications keeps drawing your attention, turn them off, set aside a time each day when you check them and stick to it
  • Set time limits on your apps: Use your phone setting to set limits on the amount you time you spend on apps and schedule Downtime when only phone calls and certain apps will work
  • Pick one thing: If one app, site, game, or digital tool takes up too much time, focus on reducing or eliminating that one thing
  • Digital detox retreat: It’s a thing, so if you have the means, there’s the world’s best technology free retreats


Remember a ‘digital detox’ doesn’t have to mean going cold turkey, define your detox to suit you and make the changes sustainable so you get real and enduring improvements to your health and wellbeing.