Those of us with smartphones can often feel bombarded with information and updates – from regular phone calls and texts, through to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram updates. For many, it can be hard to recall the last 48-hour period when we didn’t check our phone.
Growing up around technological devices can make all of this seem the norm, and the idea of switching your devices off may feel like losing a limb, but are we losing control? In 2010 the University of Maryland conducted a study, asking 200 students to go on a 24-hour media fast and describe their experience. Overall students complained they felt bored, disconnected and anxious without the Internet.
So what’s the appeal? While calling friends for a chat and reading the newspaper are traditional ways to stay connected, they involve time and concentration. The appeal of social networks and other apps is that they are quick and easy to check – allowing you to multitask.
This may sound great for the fast paced 21st century, but in reality this kind of multitasking and unfocused attention hinders productivity and inhibits the formation of memories. Studies have also shown that spending too much time online hinders relationships, affects communication skills and even harms mental health.
So, what can we do about it? The term ‘unplugging’ has been tossed around recently and more and more people are giving it a go. Unplugging is another way of saying – ditch the digital devices and give your brain some rest time.
A study from the University of Michigan found that when participants walked in the woods after learning something new, they were more likely to remember it. This suggests that taking a timeout can optimise brain function.
This weekend try going on a digital detox – call your friends and socialise with them in person, go for a walk in nature, try out a new recipe or even spend some time meditating.
If you feel you are developing an addiction to the Internet, hypnotherapy could help. For more information, please see our Internet Addiction page.
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