Digital detox

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A digital detox is a time without digital devices, such as smartphones

A digital detox is a period of time when a person voluntarily refrains from using digital devices such as smartphones, computers, and social media platforms.[1][2] This form of detoxification has gained popularity, as individuals have increased their time spent on digital devices and the Internet.


A 2015 survey conducted by Deloitte found that around 59% of smartphone users check a social media platform in the five minutes prior to going to bed, and within 30 minutes of waking up.[3]


Motivations to start a digital detox include:[4][5][6]

  • Concern about developing addictive behavior that some identify as an Internet addiction disorder[7]
  • Aiming to reduce stress and anxiety caused by the over-use of technology[8]
  • Re-focusing offline social interactions and actions
  • Re-connecting with nature
  • Increasing mindfulness
  • Improving one's learning ability by decreasing distractions and eliminating multi-tasking[9][10]

Potential health effects[edit]

Smartphone usage can disturb sleep and cause vision problems

The extended overuse of technology has been found to reduce quality of sleep, cause eye strain and vision problems, as well as lead to the increased occurrence of migraine headaches.[11] A previous research survey of over 7,000 participants found that approximately 70% of those who use technology with screens have experienced "digital eye strain as a result of the growing use of [screen possessing technological devices]".[11]

Research on the effects of popular technological devices such as cellphones and computers on sleep has suggested that the light emitted from screens may suppress the production of the hormone melatonin, an important regulatory biochemical that controls the duration and character of sleep cycles.[12]

Potential effects on relationships[edit]

A study of 145 American adults recruited through MTurk in 2016 suggested that marital satisfaction can be lowered if either partner "snubs" the other in favor of using a cellphone. The act was also associated with a higher incidence of depression and a reported lower satisfaction with life. The self-reported attachment styles of the participants were seen to have an effect such that individuals with attachment anxiety reported a higher degree of cell phone conflict.[13]

Another study suggested that the visible presence of mobile devices during conversations may have a limiting effect on the sense of connection felt between those involved in the conversation as well as the overall quality of the conversation.[14]

Social media detoxification[edit]

A subset of digital detox is social media detox, which is a period of time when individuals voluntarily stay away from social media.[15] In academic research, social media detoxification is commonly referred to as the "non-use of social media", and falls under the umbrella of "Digital Detox", with a focus specifically on unplugging from social media.

A 2019 Pew Research Center study found that 69% of adults in the United States used Facebook, 73% used YouTube, and 37% used Instagram.[16] A 2012 study found that around 60% of Facebook users have made a conscious effort to voluntarily take a break from Facebook for a time period of several weeks or more. This has been referred to as "media refusal",[17] with non-users known as "social media rejectors"[18] who once used social media but have now voluntarily given it up for various reasons.[19]


A subset of a digital detox is a social media detox, in which an individual voluntarily keeps off of social media platforms. Motivations for performing only a subset of a digital detox could be attributed to the total time spent on social media platforms and the related psychological effects.  The use of social media can lead to internet addiction and decrease productivity[16] which is why celebrities such as Ed Sheeran and Kendall Jenner have undergone a social media detox and influenced others to do one as well.[20] Comedian Ari Shaffir gained attention for refusing to use a smartphone after concerns about spending too much time on it, especially on social media.[21] A study found that the average user will spend 5 years and 4 months on social media, which is second only to watching TV, which is at 7 years and 8 months.[22] Many social media users will also visit their platforms multiple times per day, with 68% of Snapchat users and 50% of Facebook users doing so.[23] Based on a 2019 Pew Research Center study, 73% of adults in the United States use YouTube, 37% use Instagram and 69% use Facebook with around 60% of Facebook users making an effort to undergo a social media detoxification.

Most experts agree that moderation is a much more effective method of detoxification than fully forgoing technology.[24][25][26][27] One way of curbing overuse of digital devices is to allocate some of the uses of a smartphone to non-digital means. In 2019 Google announced a "paper phone" which can contain daily agendas, directions, and other uses so that people rely less on their smartphone.[24]

Designated 'sacred spaces' wherein smartphone usage is strictly prohibited can help.

Recently, the tourism industry has found a niche market for 'digital detox travel packages' where tourists are disconnected from their Information and communications technology by traveling to remote areas. A study from University of Nottingham Ningbo China found that the biggest motivators for embarking on a digital detox holiday include mindfulness, technostress, relaxation, and self-expression.[28]


In the 2010s, technology and social media became an integral aspect of everyday life, and thus the decision to refrain from using technology or social media has become a conscious lifestyle choice[29] reflecting the desire for selective and reversible disconnection.[30] In the digital age, social media plays a vital role in building social capital, maintaining connections,[31] and managing impressions.[32] Scholars have argued for the importance of maintaining a certain level of distraction that social media can provide for a balanced state of body and mind,[33] and some scholars have even argued that social media is necessary and should not be completely cut out.[27] That being said, many scholars believe that the moderation of social media is essential, primarily due to social media platforms' goal of encouraging constant use with likes, notifications, and infinite scrolling.[34] To lessen the effects of these addictive features social media platforms such as Instagram have begun to explore alternative methods, such as making likes on a user's post invisible to the user, to shift the focus away from constant notifications and likes.[35]

Some companies have even launched movements against technology addiction. For example, in October 2019, Google released Paper Phone, a Google product consisting of a printed piece of paper folded into eighths that contains relevant information to your day much like a daily planner.[24] The motive behind the project was to provide the utility of a smartphone in a simplistic and less dynamic delivery. Other projects have focused on building second phones with less functionality, or putting human nature and design above technology. Some critics disagree with Google's approach to the digital detox phenomenon, however, and instead argue that harmony between technology use and well-being can be achieved.[24] These critics suggest that the best way to digitally detox is to be mindful of the amount of time that is being spent on a digital device.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "digital detox | Definition of digital detox in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries | English. Archived from the original on December 25, 2016. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  2. ^ Syvertsen, Trine; Enli, Gunn (2019-05-16). "Digital detox: Media resistance and the promise of authenticity". Convergence. 26 (5–6): 1269–1283. doi:10.1177/1354856519847325. hdl:10852/76333. ISSN 1354-8565. S2CID 181577644.
  3. ^ "Smartphone owners in India are increasingly obsessed with their devices: Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey 2015". Adgully. November 10, 2015. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  4. ^ "Here's One Big Sign It's Time To Reevaluate Your Relationship With Your Phone". HuffPost. 2014-07-16. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  5. ^ Booth, Frances. "How To Do A Digital Detox". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  6. ^ Adam, Fish (2017). "Technology Retreats and the Politics of Social Media" (PDF). TripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. 15: 355–369. doi:10.31269/triplec.v15i1.807.
  7. ^ Morrison, S., & Gomez, R. (2014). "Pushback: The Growth of Expressions of Resistance to Constant Online Connectivity" (PDF). In iConference 2014 Proceedings (p. 1-15).
  8. ^ Ayyagari, Ramakrishna; Grover, Varun; Purvis, Russell (2011). "Technostress: Technological Antecedents and Implications". MIS Quarterly. 35 (4): 831–858. doi:10.2307/41409963. JSTOR 41409963. S2CID 5896039.
  9. ^ Smith, Julia Llewellyn (2013-12-28). "Switch off – it's time for your digital detox". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  10. ^ "Time for a digital detox? - Tara Brabazon - Fast Capitalism 9.1". Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  11. ^ a b "How Technology is Hurting Your Eyes - Healthy Living Center - Everyday Health".
  12. ^ "How Technology Impacts Sleep Quality". 21 July 2022.
  13. ^ Roberts, James A.; David, Meredith E. (2016). "My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone: Partner phubbing and relationship satisfaction among romantic partners". Computers in Human Behavior. 54: 134–141. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.058.
  14. ^ Przybylski, Andrew K.; Weinstein, Netta (2013). "Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communication technology influences face-to-face conversation quality". Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 30 (3): 237–246. doi:10.1177/0265407512453827.
  15. ^ Baumer, E. P., Guha, S., Quan, E., Mimno, D., & Gay, G. K. (2015). "Missing photos, suffering withdrawal, or finding freedom? How experiences of social media non-use influence the likelihood of reversion". Social Media+Society. 1 (2): 205630511561485. doi:10.1177/2056305115614851.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  16. ^ a b Perrin, A. & Anderson, M. (2019). "Share of U.S. adults using social media, including Facebook, is mostly unchanged since 2018". Retrieved 2019-09-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ Portwood-Stacer, L. (2012). "How we talk about media refusal, part 1: Addiction". Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  18. ^ Wyatt, S. M., Oudshoorn, N., & Pinch, T. (2013). "Non-users also matter: The construction of users and non-users of the Internet". Now Users Matter: The Co-construction of Users and Technology: 67–79.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  19. ^ Jurgenson N. (2013). "The Disconnectionists". The New Inquiry. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  20. ^ "6 celebrity supporters of digital detox". Time to Log Off. 2016-09-21. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  21. ^ "Why I ditched my smartphone". 2016-08-10. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  22. ^ "How Much Time Do People Spend on Their Mobile Phones in 2017?". Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  23. ^ "Share of U.S. adults using social media, including Facebook, is mostly unchanged since 2018". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  24. ^ a b c d e Basu, Tanya. "Google's big plan to fight tech addiction: A piece of paper". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  25. ^ Ghaffary, Shirin (2019-01-28). "What's all this fuss about "digital detox" — and does it really work?". Vox. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  26. ^ "Video Game Addiction". WebMD. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  27. ^ a b Amanda Hoh (2017-01-04). "Do you have Facebook fatigue?". ABC News. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  28. ^ Jiang, Yangyang; Balaji, M. S. (2021-03-03). "Getting unwired: what drives travellers to take a digital detox holiday?". Tourism Recreation Research. 47 (5–6): 453–469. doi:10.1080/02508281.2021.1889801. ISSN 0250-8281. S2CID 233832151.
  29. ^ "Geert | New Digital Practices of Decentralization–Interview with Geert Lovink".
  30. ^ Mainwaring, Scott D.; Chang, Michele F.; Anderson, Ken (2004). "Infrastructures and Their Discontents: Implications for Ubicomp". Ubi Comp 2004: Ubiquitous Computing. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Vol. 3205. pp. 418–432. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-30119-6_25. ISBN 978-3-540-22955-1.
  31. ^ Baumer, Eric P. S.; Guha, Shion; Quan, Emily; Mimno, David; Gay, Geri K. (2015). "Missing Photos, Suffering Withdrawal, or Finding Freedom? How Experiences of Social Media Non-Use Influence the Likelihood of Reversion". Social Media + Society. 1 (2): 205630511561485. doi:10.1177/2056305115614851.
  32. ^ Donath, J; Boyd, D (October 2004). "Public Displays of Connection" (PDF). BT Technology Journal. 22 (4): 71–82. doi:10.1023/ S2CID 14502590. Retrieved 9 November 2022.
  33. ^ "Necsus | the aesthetics of dispersed attention: An interview with German media theorist Petra Löffler". 8 November 2013.
  34. ^ "Nir Eyal: The Psychology of Building Addictive Products". 2016-08-16.
  35. ^ "Instagram hides likes count 'to remove pressure'". BBC News. 2019-07-18.