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The Importance of a Digital Diet
08 May 15
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Digital Detox

People are becoming addicted to their phones. There is no denying it, it’s a fact. Our social and business dependency on our phones are diluting our meaningful relationships and switching us off to the reality surrounding us. You may not feel like your dependency on your mobile phone is disconnecting you from meaningful relationships, however try and think of a conversation which you have had face-to-face when you did not check your phone mid conversation. It’s a sad paradox - the very device which connects us with millions of people is the same device disconnecting us from the handful of people that matter the most. 

Today the fear of being out of mobile phone contact is a real phobia. Nomophobia is a real and it is psychologically affecting more and more people around the globe every year. Think about it, how often are you checking your phone for updates, or worse still, how often do you check your phone because you heard a phantom ring? For those of you who don’t know a Phantom Ring is a syndrome many of us "suffer” from. It is the sensation and false belief that your phone is vibrating or ringing, when in fact it is not. This did not exist 10 years ago. 

That isn't to say that cell phones are bad for your social life; you just need to know when to put your phone away. 

The growing tendency towards people suffering (even mildly) from Nomophobia and Phantom Ringing Syndrome have given rise to digital retreats. These retreats offer exactly what you would expect; a vacation free from digital devices and digital reception. Even if you were to bring your cell phone or tablet you would get no WiFi. 

Digital retreat companies have been popping up all over America. They offer a complete digital detox, a getaway from instant messaging, emails and cat memes. 

However, like any holiday even a digital detox vacation must come to an end, however at the end of a digital detox break your inbox will be flooded, your social media will be outdated and you will have a lot of news to catch-up on. Digital retreats sound great, however there is no denying it; we are dependent on our digital devices – and why should we be ashamed of that? They offer security and connectivity.

So the answer (at least the long term answer) is not to switch off but to rather be digitally responsible to your social mentality. In other words, "know when to switch off”. 

Switching off our digital world is stressful – so it is necessary to find a balance. Being digitally responsible will help us manage our work life, social networking lives and most importantly our more intimate relationships. 

Recent studies have actually shown that during times when you need to concentrate (meeting or study sessions) your anxiety levels will drop if your phone is off (or even hidden from sight in a drawer). In 2013 researchers at Kent State University (Kent, Ohio) surveyed more than 500 college students with the goal to discover the link between grades, happiness and high cell phone use. The outcome was obvious (in light of this article of course). The students who said they used their cell phones a lot had lower grades, higher anxiety, and lower satisfaction with life. 

The answer is to treat your cell phone and mental health as you would treat food and your physical health. Use constraint. Go on a digital diet and learn to switch off from time to time.

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