By the SMU Social Media Team
In this technology-saturated world, we’re spending exponentially more time in front of our screens, be it on our laptops, TVs or mobile phones.
With social distancing and isolation brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, our technology addiction is now exacerbated. From constantly checking and responding to emails to refreshing Instagram to see your friends’ latest Instagram Stories, many of us are consumed by the need to be digitally connected all the time. In fact, a global survey conducted in March 2020 revealed that 44 per cent of users found themselves spending more time on social media, while 55 per cent were spending more time watching shows on streaming services.
So, just how much screen time is too much for your mental and physical well-being? Is it time to hit the pause button on your digital devices? Here are some signs that you may need a digital detox:
Warning #1: You feel anxious when you don’t have your phone with you
We’re not talking about the possibility of misplacing your phone here—which is a legit reason to feel anxious. Does the mere thought of being separated from your phone for a short span of time make you feel uncomfortable or not able to function? That could signify an unhealthy attachment or dependency on your phone.
Warning #2: You have a constant need to check on your social media feed
It’s one thing to casually check Facebook during commercial breaks and quite another if you’re constantly reaching for your phone to check your Instagram feed even before you receive any push notifications.
Warning #3: You always reply to your chat messages within a few seconds
Status: online. That’s you all the time and you can’t understand why your friends can’t reply to messages as quickly as you do. After all, it’s the first thing you check when you wake up and the last thing you do before you turn in for the night. And that’s perfectly normal…Isn’t it?
Warning #4: You’re present, but not really
Have your friends or family texted you from across the dinner table on more than one occasion, because they figured that would get your attention faster than attempting to make a face-to-face conversation with you? While your situation may not be that extreme, being unable to have a meal or conversation without picking up your phone is also a giveaway that it may be a good time to rethink your relationship with this little gadget.
If the above scenarios sound vaguely familiar to you, then perhaps it’s time to unplug. Here are a few small steps you can take to wean yourself off your digital devices:
Tip 1: Give yourself a ‘screen time’ allowance and stick to it
What better way to win a screen time battle than with technology itself? Whether you’re using an Apple or Android phone, both offer you the option to track your screen time—from how many times you pick up your phone and what’s the first application you use once you pick up the phone, to how much time you spend on each application. Be more conscious about how much time you’re spending on the phone and take small steps to cut down on your screen time gradually.
Tip 2: Break one technology habit at a time
Just like embarking on a new diet or exercise regime, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to be a digital recluse and disconnect completely. For example, you can set small achievable goals every week, starting with not using your laptop in the bedroom, or only checking your social media feeds three times a day instead of twice every hour.
Tip 3: Set aside time each day for a physical activity
Whether it is an hour or just 30 minutes a day, taking time out for a bit of exercise is a must to keep healthy, both physically and mentally. Take a brisk walk around your estate, or maybe turn on your favourite Yoga with Adriene YouTube video to give your body that much needed stretch and realignment after hours of sitting. Prefer an activity with more of a challenge? There’s nothing like an intense HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) circuit to get your heart pumping and adrenaline flowing. Come up with a set of preferred routines and change it up ever so often to keep things interesting—plotting your very own workout bingo card is one great way to keep yourself motivated.
Tip 4: Put away your phone when you’re having a meal or conversation with your friends and family
Make a conscious effort to focus on your real-world relationships instead of checking what your favourite influencer’s up to this weekend. Try keeping your phone in your bag or out of sight when you’re with your friends or family—this reduces the urge to pick it up and scroll through your emails or messages. It’s not just the polite thing to do but removing distractions can improve your real-life interactions.