Do you need a ‘Digital Detox’ as bad as I do?

God forbid we let our digital devices out of our sight or leave the house without our phone (gasp) which is basically an extension of our arm.  For goodness sake, my three year old knows how to navigate my phone better than my parents and she even tried to swipe the checkout monitor at Hy-vee when she was just one and a half years old!!!

I read an article recently that really hit me hard.  It claimed, “Individuals are exposed to an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes a day of media.”  What the???  That translates to…get ready for this….75 hours and 15 minutes per week, which is nearly twice as many hours as most of us put into a full-time job each week (so scary)!!!  Of those media hours, the internet, mostly social media, takes up over half of that time.

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In the candy coated, online world we live in, we all see a lot of ‘perfect’.  It is through social media that we are repeatedly exposed to a highly idealized representation of our peers, which creates the feeling of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives.  Everyone is trying to put their best foot forward and only tend to share one side of the coin.

Along with envy and jealousy, social media also heightens the exposure to an alarming increase in bullying, which is also linked to depression.  Furthermore, with the growing rate of depression, is the increasing rate of suicide-related behavior.

Being connected all the time is bad for our productivity, relationships, brain and our connection to others.  It is linked to anxiety, depression, stress and fatigue.  For many, social media becomes compulsive, uncontrolled, and addicting.  Sadly, the internet is becoming more of a social outlet than the real world.  And slowly but surely, social networking is replacing in-person interactions which results in us neglecting real world relationships with others.

Between my career in sonography, blogging as my side job, and recreational use of social media, I’ve noticed myself spending more and more time staring at a digital screen.  I’ll be the first to admit, I could use a digital intervention myself.  So, I encourage you to join me, and put forth an effort to try a digital detox.

dig·it·al de·tox

noun
informal
a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.

Experiment with a “no digital devices at the dinner table” rule or a “no phone in bed” rule.  Keep your electronic devices off (ha) or at least out of sight while at home, maybe one day a week (HA) or maybe, more realistically, just a few hours everyday.  Think about the time you’ll create!!  Use this extra time to spend time with your family, sleep, workout, enjoy a meal and savor the present moment!

While there are many downfalls to digital devices and social media use, there’s no arguing that technology is a wonderful tool that can still be used to keep us connected with people around the world for all kinds of reasons and can help us in our everyday life, work or travels.  However, it’s no surprise that online behavior creates major offline consequences so make a conscious choice to be more mindful about using your devices and don’t let them consume you.

Unplug (for a little while), and enjoy your new found freedom!

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