Sure, technology has done wonders to benefit our civilisation, our countries -- our everyday lives. We can now stay in touch with friends on the other side of the world, we can share our happy news with everyone the second we're engaged and we can find out pretty much anything on the internet.
But there are also some serious downsides to technology. The more we begin to rely on it, the more it takes over our lives. If you've found yourself checking your emails before you say good morning to your partner as you wake up, if you'd rather say hi on Facebook than pop in to see a friend or if you've found yourself absorbed in a YouTube video blackhole of babies eating lemons and cats playing pianos, then you realise it can also be a massive time-waster.
If you think it's time for you to take a little break from your virtual world to rediscover the real world, then read on.
Why a tech detox is good for you
Think of it like a health detox — you need to cut yourself off completely before you begin to re-introduce your foe in small, manageable doses. A detox is a great way to remember that while it may feel like another lifetime, it wasn't that long ago that we lived without Twitter, Facebook and iPhone apps. And we survived. A cleanse is a great way to focus on the other parts of your life for a while — spending more time with your partner or kids, for example. You might realise that what you thought was essential had only become a bad habit you simply needed to break.
Signs you might need a detox
- You'd rather text, tweet, tag or email your friend than pop in to have a face-to-face chat.
- You check your emails before you say hello to the people you live with in the morning.
- You can't wait more than a few minutes before you check some sort of technological device.
- Instead of helping you to connect, technology has begun to make you withdraw from the world around you.
- You constantly check your texts and emails when you're out with friends or family, even when you're not waiting for anything in particular.
How to detox
- Choose a week day, weekend or week that you know you won't actually need to be connected to technology (e.g. not your travelling mother's birthday or important work conference call).
- Set yourself a goal or time period that you decide you won't be connected for — this could be as short as two hours or as long as you like. However long it is, just make sure it's a challenge.
- After you've gone through the time period successfully and survived — it's a miracle — you can start to give yourself small allowances, say an email check once a day or a Facebook status update once a week. You'll realise you don't actually need to be connected 24/7.
- Swap your previously tech-devoted time to doing something particularly enjoyable or constructive. For example, instead of wasting a few hours on Facebook each night, organise a BBQ at the beach with friends or take the kids for a bike ride around the block.
- If you use technology as a "zone-out" time when you get home from work, put some relaxing music on instead, or have a quiet 10-minute break at your local park or beach. You might even realise that you don't need a particular technological device at all or that you don't want to be part of time-sucking social networks anymore.
- Try to have regular detoxes. Mark them in your diary and stick to them.