They’re often the first things we reach for in the morning, and the last thing we see at night, so it’s little wonder that for most of us, our relationship with our smartphones has descended into a full-blown dependency.
As the number of ‘must have’ social media channels grows faster than our thumbs can scroll, the allure of another quick check of our phones is not only zapping productivity, but damaging our health. Heavy internet use has been linked to depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, with our time in front of a screen now averaging of 8 hours and 41 minutes – including 150 social media checks a day! Pretty sobering facts.
So if you’re feeling the tech hangover in your own life, it may be time for a mini break from your phone. Worried that your willpower will not stand up against the call of Instragram though? Never fear – there is technology to help you overcome your addiction to technology.
Check out these digital detox technologies that promise a range of ways to get us to unplug:
Not ready to go cold turkey yet? This app allows you to pull back on how much time you spend on your smartphone, sending you notifications once you exceed your daily limit. Depending on how hardcore you want to be about your time offline, you can even give the app the authority to force you off your device if you find yourself burning through too much data.
This app might just be the proverbial wake up call you need; it tells you exactly how many times a day you check your phone. The hope is that information alone will be enough to make you reconsider your lifestyle choices, because beyond that, it doesn’t offer anything else to curb your addiction.
BreakFree is an app helping to make digital rehab centers as redundant as the ROFL acronym. Not only does it track your usage (like Checky) and send you notifications when you’re been online a while (like Moment), BreakFree also calculates your “addiction score” based on those metrics. You can also schedule periods of downtime where you can disable notifications, the internet and incoming calls. Of course, you could always just turn off your phone, but where’s the fun in that?
If you’re the type to pounce on your phone with the chime of every incoming message, only to feel the sinking disappointment of a junk email, Unrollme can help. It’s a free service that allows you to view and edit your subscription emails. Granted, it’s a small step, but clearing the clutter from your inbox can be a small step to extracting yourself from your phone.
Digital detox challenge
If you enjoy your detoxes with a side order of competition, this might be the way to go. Sign up for a detox challenge for a predetermined time, during which you’ll have limited access to your phone’s function. There’s a range of difficulty levels (the harder the setting, the longer the detox stretch), with the result of your ‘performance’ determining your place on a leader board. There’s even an option to add ‘accountability’ through a small fee for every time you prematurely end your detox.
We get it – it’s hard to go anywhere without your phone firmly in hand. However, a wearable device – like the Fitbit Blaze – can help curb your separation anxiety by alerting you to any texts, calls or calendar notifications without actually distracting you with a screen. Simply swipe them away and carry on with your day. You know, like IRL.