Digital detox - giving up digital devices for a period of time - can according to research have mental health benefits.
by Oliver Østergaard
The ever-connected system made possible by smartphones and other digital devices gives us constant access to information. Everything from worldwide news to social media updates can today be contained within our pockets.
Having all this information available at the push of a bottom can be helpful in our daily lives. But it also means that we are constantly exposed to additional choices and changes in a rapid manner. Staying updated and connected with everything and everyone can become overwhelming and trigger anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues.
As digital devices and social media platforms evolve, so does the interest in researching the effects technology has on our mental well-being. Terms like “Technostress” and “Digital detox” have gained more attention in recent years while Covid-19 has increased the necessity for online communication.
Since Nuna is a digital health companion, it is important to address this topic.
Digital technologies’ effect on mental health is a field of study that is marked by vague terminology and ambiguous findings. A good example of this can be found in the research on digital detox.
What strategies can we apply to help manage our technology use?
Digital detox is an initiative that involves consciously taking a break from digital media or parts of digital media for a given period. E.g.
Checking our email
Playing online or video games
Scrolling through social media
Smartphones and tablets usage in general
Or watching TV - like the news
Taking a digital break has been suggested to be an effective strategy to counter technostress; “any negative impact on attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, or body physiology that is caused either directly or indirectly by technology” (Bondanini et. al, 2020).
However, research on digital detox still show mixed results on the effectiveness of detoxing against the negative consequences of technostress. This is partly because there still isn’t a solid consensus on what constitutes digital detox.
However, it is important to emphasize that digital detox does not necessarily require us to go cold turkey on all technology. Instead, we could identify areas we want to take a break from and we can even use technology to implement digital detox strategies into our everyday life.
Digital detox applications like the app iOS Screen Time help people limit their use of distracting social network sites. Mindfulness-based apps like Nuna are also good examples of Digital detox applications that, while being part of the digital world, also help you navigate through it in a way that is easier on your mental health.
Digital detox can, surprisingly enough, have varying degrees of Digital-assistance. The most important requirement seems to be that we are mindful of the way we interact with digital media and make a conscious effort to use technology in a way that is supportive of our mental health.