“I finally realized it. People are prisoners of their phones, that’s why they are called cell phones.”
We are hearing this more nowadays, that most of the youth is so connected to digital devices, that it is difficult for them to switch them off for even a minute. Parents are highly concerned about the time kids devote to their mobile phones, and how they isolate themselves from the world due to this addiction.
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a specialist in addiction treatment in a well-known rehabilitation center in New York, says that the addiction to screens that our youth has is way more difficult to treat than any other substance addiction. The adversities are huge. Addiction to gadgets is responsible for
Poor interpersonal relationships
Mental and Physical health hazards
Impaired social intelligence, and the list goes on.
When talking about safe online promotion for our youth, it is important to empower the youngsters with the ability to make good choices with what they do online, in other words, to make them “good digital citizens”.
Digital Detox - The Need of The Hour
With the developing ubiquity and availability of informal communities, media, and informing applications, it is hard not to invest energy in it. We are past the time where we can envision existence without the PCs or mobile phones. So it would not be exceptionally adept to take after the "Zero Minutes Online" battle when we have a smarter solution to it -"The Digital Detox" Program.
Digital Detoxification is a recent progress that has been effectively made, with the intention of solving the Device Addictions. It can be applied to people of all ages, but, the best results have been seen in adolescents, who are arguably the worst victims of this addiction.
Digital Detox isn't about separating ourselves from our loved gadgets and social platforms. It is more about utilizing them smartly with the end goal that we can spare ourselves from the damage. It encourages us to refrain from the constant use of gadgets and gives us the chance to get rid of the stress, nervousness, and online networking weight that our minds carry every day.
Why The Youth?
Youngsters are not fully mindful of the rights and wrongs. But they are among the heaviest users of technology and gadgets. Chatting online, posting photos, and scrolling through the wall of social networks are few of the many things that keep them ever engaged with their phones and/or computers. And this is why reason Digital Detox is exceedingly prescribed for adolescents. It not just makes them aware of the dangers of technology, it additionally shows them how to balance between what they want and what they should. The benefits of Digital Detox include, but are not limited to
Helping to make good choices online.
Allowing us to be aware of how much time we devote to our devices and track our own progress.
Making us healthier, both physically and mentally.
Reducing stress and anxiety cropping out from constant use of technical devices.
Improving academic achievements, emotional problems, relationship with parents and siblings.
The 5 Steps
Go Offline -- The first step of your Digital Detox is to get rid of the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Many teenagers fall prey to the digital addiction as they find it hard focusing elsewhere with the steady anxiety that they are missing out on something fascinating.
How to practice
Log out from your social networks while you are studying or at work. You can take short breaks when you can access your media and messaging sites. But do not involve them in your busy hours.Set your timer on phone, which sounds an alarm after say 10 minutes or 20 minutes, the short break in which you are accessing the phone.
Switch off your mobile and other devices before your go to sleep. This is also important for maintaining sleep hygiene.
Turn off notifications and sounds while you are busy.
Avoid using devices for a specific time in the day. For example, do not scroll through messages and wall feeds during meals, or while you are going to sleep, and practice this everyday. You can choose your own time to practice this.
2. Find a Hobby -- The next step of Digital Detox is to find something you love to do. You are lucky if you already have one. Keep yourself preoccupied with it, this will make your leisure times more fun, creative, and you won’t suffer boredom.
How to practice
Explore your hobbies and find out what you enjoy doing the most.
Try doodling, exercising, painting, music, or cooking.
Keep one hour for yourself everyday, no matter how busy life is. Spend this hour doing only what gives food to your soul. It will help to declutter your mind.
Practice meditation and breathing exercises everyday as daily doses of stress relief.
3. Allow yourself some “Online Time” -- Dr. Richard Graham, a Technology Addiction Specialist, says that if we devote a number of allowance minutes for our devices, then we are more likely to stick to the Detox process. Limiting the time we give to the virtual world make us mindful to the present.
How to practice
Schedule your day smartly. Do not spend more than 10 hours for study and/or work. Do not skip meals and watch out for the external stressors.
Do not force yourself to stay away from your phone as that would increase the urge to check it.
Start with baby steps and set targets smartly. For example, if you are in the first week of your detox plan, allow 3-4 hours to spend with your phone and laptop. For the rest of the time, follow steps 1 and 2.
As you move ahead successfully, try reducing the time you allow yourself and notice if you are feeling de-stressed than before.
Train yourself to use your devices only when you “need” to, not when you are bothered by nothingness. Individuals who rehearse this are substantially less influenced by screen fixation than others.
4. Reality Check -- The fourth stage of any successful Detox Plan is to keep an eye on the time, money and energy you spend for your devices and internet. Besides making you aware , it is also a brilliant inspiration for self-improvement.
How to practice
Use a tracking device, or install data tracking applications in your phone. You can do an internet research on the popular tracking apps. One example is the Anti-Social Application developed recently in Melbourne, Australia.
Tracking data usage would help you know the normal limits and assess what you need to work on. Many applications also let you compare data usage with others and keep you motivated.
Track your battery usage, and see which applications you use the most and how much battery life it exhausts. If you need to recharge your devices frequently (more than twice a day), it means you are using them heavily.
If you do not have a tracking device, you can simply start by tracking the time you spend each day in the virtual world.
5. Manage your Emotions -- Statistics say that an average teenager checks his/her phone 150-200 times daily. In the fifth step of the Digital Detox, the key is to regulate emotions so that you can manage the urge. This is crucial if you do not want to be a slave to your digital devices.
How to practice
Train yourself not to check the phone the moment it beeps, unless it is an urgent call.
Keep the device away or put the silent mode on. Make sure to look into the device only after you have finished with the work in hand.
Practice this throughout the day except for the allowance minutes (discussed in step 3).
Make sure that you control the device, do not let it control you.
A successful Digital Detox is about self discipline and motivation. It is important to make a good plan, more important to start with it, and most important to stick to it.
The “Action” phase is all about how well you follow the steps and apply them regularly while you are in the retreat. The action is particularly important as this is where you have to give in all your motivation and dedication. The plan and steps cannot be fruitful unless you take the actions on time.
So for those who are planning to go for a Digital Detox, go for it without doubts. And for the ones who haven't thought of it as yet, realize that "Sometimes the best way to recharge our batteries is to unplug them.”
Rajat Soni International is conducting a Teen Leadership Workshop for kids in the age group of 12-17 on July 15, 2018. To know more please CLICK HERE