A technology addiction can take a number of forms: hooked on texting, addicted to social media, obsessed with gaming or just being compulsive about using all forms of modern media. If you feel like you might be crossing the line from using devices to enhance your life to a full-blown tech addiction, it’s time for a detox. Tech addictions are real and are classified as behavioral addictions.
These kinds of addictions mimic drug addiction in many ways, including getting a short-term reward, becoming obsessed, developing tolerance, feeling withdrawal and using in spite of negative consequences. Before it’s too late and you become a tech addict, try a detox. Here are some tips to get you started on a detox that works for your needs.
Go Totally Device-Free
Most of us need our devices for work, so finding the time to put them aside might seem difficult. In fact, putting them aside for a period of time may just help you realize that you are too connected to work as well as your devices. If you really struggle to go without so much as looking at your phone for a few minutes, start with a small window of time.
Give yourself a device-free hour in the evening. Turn them off or put them away in a drawer. Use your hour to have dinner with your family, to watch television without being distracted, to work out, to read a book or to do whatever will distract you from thinking about all the notifications you’re missing. Once you have achieved, and hopefully enjoyed, an hour without tech, try longer periods of time, up to an entire weekend day.
Keep Devices Out of the Bedroom
Once you have realized that you can go device-free and that you won’t die, it’s time to make some permanent, detox-style rules. One definite, hard-and-fast rule should be to keep your devices out of the bedroom. Charge your phone and tablet in another room. Research has shown that the light from devices can fool your circadian rhythms into thinking it isn’t time to go to sleep yet. The result is poor quality sleep. Read a book before going to sleep and not only will you be detoxing from your devices, you should feel more rested the next day.
Never Disrupt Conversations With Devices
Another strict rule of device detox should be to practice polite tech use. It’s just plain rude to look at your phone or tablet while talking to someone, but it is also a sign that you can’t control your device use. Make it a permanent rule of your device detox to never use tech while you’re talking to another person. Even if you are at work, even if someone else is doing it to you, keep your device out of sight while conversing. It will be tough at first, but with practice, you can learn to make it a habit.
Use an App
It seems ironic to use a device to stop using your device so much, but apps really can be useful. There are plenty of apps available that will help you log time spent on devices and will let you set up schedules for use. When you’re not supposed to be on Facebook, for example, the app will not let you see it. An app is a good option when your other efforts have failed.
Going on a tech detox will be difficult initially, but if you can take some of these steps and practice these rules, you will find that your life is much more enjoyable when you aren’t chained to your devices. If you really can’t detox, consider finding a professional counselor experienced in treating behavioral addictions.