Addicted to Your Smartphone? Try a Digital Detox

This post was guest-written for Visage and originated on the Visage Mobile blog. It has been re-posted with permission from Visage for use on the Concur blog.

Here’s how obsessed people are with their mobile phones: according to Time magazine, 68 percent of users take their devices with them to bed, 20 percent check their phones every 10 minutes, and one third report feeling anxious when briefly separated from their beloved gadget.

The rates of addiction show no signs of abating. The majority of Americans own a smartphone and the numbers increase every year. So while the stats say we’re more “connected” than ever before, the question that really needs to be answered is: are we really that connected?

Maybe not.

Overcoming Digital Addiction

Recent studies show that the mere sighting of a smartphone limits how humans interact — impeding the development of “interpersonal closeness and trust” and leading people to feel less “empathy and understanding from their partners.” Then there’s what happens when someone’s actually using a phone: ”There’s a smart-phone gait: the slow sidewalk weave that comes from being lost in conversation rather than looking where you’re going,” writes Time’s Nancy Gibbs. “Thumbs are stronger, attention shorter, temptation everywhere: we can always be, mentally, digitally, someplace other than where we are.”

Hence, the growing calls for a nationwide detox. Levi Felix should know: after years spent tethered to his technology, the 28 year-old launched Digital Detox, which hosts retreats in Northern California that require guests to surrender their smartphones and immerse themselves in yoga and healthy cooking, according to the New York Times. The startup-slave-turned-digital-evangelist now spends his days helping others develop mindful relationships with their devices and their surroundings.

Whatever you want to call it — turning off, checking out, detoxing — ignoring our devices isn’t easy. But it’s crucial to our well-being, says Benjamin Robbins, co-founder of Palador, a enterprise mobility consulting firm based in Seattle. ”Call it mobile blasphemy, but I have no problem ditching the device and unapologetically spending dinner and weekends with kids and family, much to the chagrin of some of my mobile cohorts,” said Robbins, who’s spending a year using a single device in an effort to simplify his life.

Still not convinced? Here, Robbins makes the case for kicking the smartphone habit:


Why Employees Should Disconnect


Many employees have created for themselves an unfounded sense of anxiety around disconnecting, Robbins says. “The world isn’t going to end, you’re not going to screw up a business deal, you don’t need to be that responsive, people get it,” he says. Quite the opposite, disconnecting affords us time for the rest and relaxation necessary to restore the energy we put into our professional lives.

Phone users rely so much on their devices to make decisions and to provide instant access to information, that they’ve lost the ability to plan ahead, their memories have suffered, and their creativity is stunted, argues Robbins.


Why Companies Should Disconnect


Everyone thinks they’re great at multitasking. Turns out, they’re wrong. Multitasking actually hurts concentration and creative thinking, the lifeblood of any growing company. And there’s nothing more annoying, says Robbins, than standing before a room full of people hidden behind their laptop screens. His advice: mandate device-free meetings and encourage employees to meet face-to-face.


Why Families Should Disconnect


The same way parents are too busy trying to capture their children on video than to appreciate the moment, everyone who’s shackled to their phone misses out on quality time with the people closest to them. Smartphones are creating walls in personal relationships, Robbins says. ”We need to be cognizant when we’re with friends and family, and be OK with that,” he says. “It’s essential to ditch the device on a regular basis in order to have face-to-face connections and be present.”

Nobody’s suggesting a 12-step program — yet — and Robbins, ever the optimist, thinks people will eventually rediscover the value of device-less interactions. Until then, try looking up every once in awhile — and looking around.


How do you break from the non-stop world of technology? Share your tips in the comments below!



Photo credit: Alexander Parker


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